Sunday, November 13, 2011

Book review: The Stormchasers

Title: The stormchasers
Author: Jenna Blum
Genre: Contemporary fiction

First sentence reads: Karena Jorge's birthday starts as a quiet affair, but she doesnt mind.

Rating: 4/5

This book was a random pick at a book sale. The title, front cover and the synopsis drew me to this book. It has been a fabulous read.

The story goes at a steady pace and manages to sustain the suspense till the end. Karena Jorge has been separated from her twin brother for 20 years. He has been unpredictable  from young and suffered from bipolar disorder. The only consistency about Charles is his storm chasing tendency. So, on her 38th birthday Karena decides to look for him and signs up for a stormchasing whirlwind tour.

As the story unfolds of the tour group leaders, members and the various tidbits on storms and clouds, Karena gives us glimpse into the past, into her childhood. It was frustrating whenever Karena had near misses of finding her brother. However it all just built momentum on the climax of sister meeting her long lost brother. 

The ending was perfect and it fit well with the suspense of why Charles went missing years ago and all the sad episode that was the tipping point in both their young life. The stormchasing episodes in the tour, together with Karena's blossoming romance with tour guide Kevin were beautifully written. It's a book I highly recommend to anyone in search of a adventure, albeit from your own living room.

Favourite quotes:

"Nice Cu," Fern says.
"Sure is," says Karena absently. Then, "Wait, what's Cu?"
Fern laughs. "I keep forgetting you're a virgin," she says. She points with her cigarette to the white puffy clouds cruising over the truck stop.

Karena can't stop looking at this, the storm on one side, moon on the other. She never would have believed such a thing was possible, chaos and calm sharing the same sky.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday snapshot (3)

Saturday snapshot is hosted by Alyce, at At home with books. To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky below. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online.

Snapped this picture when I was walking in a shop selling a variety of  cactuses. Among the curious, sinister, alien looking cactuses, this one looked downright cute, like a pair of red stockinged legs stuck in a cactus. Does it also by any chance look like a naughty smurf stuck on top a cactus???

Book blogger hop- 20/5-23/5

Book Blogger Hop

Welcome to another week of book hop. Book blogger hop is hosted by Jennifer at crazy-for-books. It has been ages since I joined the book hop. I missed discovering new blogs and the chance to mingle with other great bloggers out there.I cant pass up this week's question though. This week's question is from Ivan who blogs at Ivan Bookworm:

 "If you were given the chance to spend one day in a fictional world (from a book), which book would it be from and what would that place be?"

My answer: I would love to spend a day in harry potter world, being a witch, learning transfiguration and going for quidditch match. Plus doing all those awesome things that Harry, Hermione and Ron do. I would not wish to go for potions though, =) for obvious reason, as I would definitely be in Griffindor and I'm very sure that Snape would not pass up the chance to torture the Griffindors during his classes.  Other reasons why Harry Potter is my choice is because of the magical school Hogwarts, its moving staircases, talking portraits, spells, wands, and platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross station. Who would pass up such a chance?

But if I could not be a witch and have to sadly remain a muggle, I'd go for Prince Edward Island, a place from the book Anne of Green Gables. Nothing beats Anne's adventure and imagination. I would love to take a walk on a lane of cherry blossoms and dreaming by the pond, giving them splendid sounding names and doing all those crazy things that would make Marilla roll her eyes. It would be fantastic to let my imagination take a wild ride just like Anne, and to grow up with all those lovely people in the Anne's story. 

What about you? Which is your favourite fictional place and where would that be?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book review: Remember me?

Title: Remember me?
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Genre: Chick lit

First sentence reads: Of all the crap, crap, crappy nights I've ever had in the whole of my life.

Rating: 4/5

This was one of the most fun book that I have read recently. It immediately perked me up and was such an entertainment.  Do you know how important is your memory?  You must read this book and it would leave you in stictches and at the same time would be a wake up call for taking things for granted.  Lexi wakes up in a private hospital thinking it was still year 2004 while it was already year 2007. All she could recall was having a good time with her friends in a pub and after that waiting for her then boyfriend, Loser Dave. Fed up with waiting for him, she tried to hail a taxi and in her rush had a nasty fall. Then she lost consciousness. She wakes up to a brand new her, perfect teeth, lovely straight hair and fuller lips and to Eric, her husband, which is news to her. She is tremendously upset that she missed her dad's funeral which was supposed to be the day after she went clubbing and also that she cant remember her wedding. Lexi is stumped that her life has taken a 360 degree turn as her best friends are not around anymore and a new guy is holding the keys to her previous life which she has no memories of. I absolutely adored Lexi and would say this is one book which doesn't disappoint in any way.  I am definitely going to read  other books by Sophie Kinsella. I am planning to read The Confession of a Shopaholic. I watched the movie and I loved it and now I'm eager to read it.

Favourite quotes:
I'm twenty-eight, I have perfect white teeth, a Louis Vuitton bag, a card saying director and a husband. how the hell did all that happen?
What if I never remember? I look around the room.What if all those memories are lost for good and I can never get them back?Ever?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Saturday snapshot (2)

Dusk is falling at Kelulut Beach, Terengganu but three solitary figures remain by the edge of the water.  I love quiet beach side photos, they show how calm and tranquil the world is at times.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Book review: The chocolate run

Title : The Chocolate Run
Author: Dorothy Koomson
Genre: Chick lit

First sentence reads: You're floating on a sea of chocolate.

What's in name challenge : A book with travel or movement in the title

Rating: 3/5

This story was an enjoyable read, though it took me some time to get through it. It also took me some time to warm up to the main characters, Amber and Greg. Once I got the hang of  not taking it so serious I was fine. The storyline is simple and  meant to entertain. Chocolate run is the story of Amber, a chocolate addict who is commitment-phobic. She has complicated relationship issues with her parents and her present boyfriend Greg. The story delves into her past and current relationships with her best friends Jen, Matt (Jen's boyfriend) and Greg (Matt's gorgeous best buddy). The story begins with Amber having  an accidental fling with Greg a playboy, whom she had previously saved from many tricky situations. She is horrified by her lack of judgement. However things move on from one thing to another and they end up being in a relationship. The plot then flits between numerous things that she encounters in relationship and her job as a deputy festival director.

What I enjoyed most about the book was Amber's description about people by comparing them with differnt types of chocolate. It was so utterly funny and imaginative. It was also truthful in certain parts where true friendship falls apart due to jealousy and things never get back to normal again as in the case of Amber and Jen. It shows how cruel people can be and how it spoils a whole lot of things. Amber and Jen go through such moments when Amber couples up with Greg. The story is all about  relationship, how fragile it is and how we deal with hurtful loved ones. The ending was perfect though, somehow complimenting how layered and complicated we human being are, not perfect, just a tad complicated. 

Favourite quotes:

You could tell so much about a person by your initial encounter, your initial taste of them. Talk to me for 3 minutes and I'll be able to tell you what chocolate you'd be. 

 I knew instantly that she was fruit and nut chocolate. Something reliable, an old favourite you liked having around. She was unpretentious like the chocolate and sweet, like the raisins, in a fruit and nut. But Martha had an excess of nuts, the hard bits you weren't expecting  to encounter when you were chillin.

 'Sorry,' I said to the teabag, then doused it in water. We were both going the same way but the tea bag was going to a higher purpose; it was about to offer refreshment. When my relationship met its demise, there'd be nowt purposeful about it. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Musings: Part 2- Music heals the soul

Yes folks it does. Well you might have noticed that I have not been posting much reviews these days. It's just that I've been in a reading slump and was busy with my thesis. Thus my blog was abandoned for quite some time. Yesterday i received a kind comment on my book review and that revved me up to write again. That's the power of positive reinforcement. Keep the comments coming.

Coming to the topic about music, when you are so focused into something that pleases you a lot, you tend to ignore something that is so focused in tormenting you. Simply put, you ignore whats troubling you. So, there  I was, mulling my problems and spinning downwards successfully into S-A-D syndrome. But work must go on, and I had weekly extra classes that I teach for primary 5 kids. I was supposed to teach grammar for the kids and I thought lets give the kids a break and have a game instead. So, off I went searching songs for them, so called learning English through songs. I practically looked high and low for a suitable song with inspiring lyrics  with equally catchy tunes for the boys. Yup, all boys in my class and  my choices were somewhat limited to boybands and song by male singers. I was pretty sure that the boys wouldn't dance along to Alicia Keys and Taylor Swift.

I remembered the song from my lecturer's inaugural lecture, a song called world behind my wall by Tokio Hotel. The lyrics were good and the music was equally good. That night after allowing the boys to sing their hearts out to the song and giving them homework based on the song lyrics I sat down in front of my pc and googled Tokio Hotel. They are a German band comprising of 4 members, Bill Kaulitz (lead singer), Tom Kaulitz, Gustav and Georg. Impressed with their beginning and record sales of their albums I you-tubed their videos. I was hooked. I adored their song called monsoon, then sang along to the futuristic dark side of the sun and automatic and loved their soulful rendition of don't jump. Besides loving their songs, I loved Bill Kaulitz style.

To sum it all up, this post was written just to say that I've become a Tokio Hotel fan. Cheers to all book lovers, I'm off to listen to their song again.

Musings: Part 1- Combating sadness

Hi there book lovers. It has been a long while since my last post. I wrote this post when I was down and out, which was a long while ago and completed it yesterday.  I was thinking about what should I do to banish the dark gloomy feeling of sadness. I'm very sure all of you would say curling up with a book helps to forget and fight sadness. That's what I normally do. What are other creative ways to combat sadness? Here are my own solutions to SOS (shaking off sadness).

1. Read motivational blogs or books.                                                          
2. Go shopping (retail therapy)
3. Go out with friends
4. Listen to  favourite music (Oh this really helps, see post on music heals the soul)
5. Sing out loud
6. Get a listening ear, literally, which means pour it all out on a unsuspecting good friend (helps a lot too) =)
7. Write  a journal (gets it off the chest and when you flip the page long after that, you'd be surprised at how far you've come)
8. Think about the cause and effects till it wears you down (Some say you ought not keep thinking about what makes you sad, I say its not up to you, your brain does that, so just allow yourself to wallow for a while).
9. Cry your heart out.
10. Sleep early and get up stronger physically and mentally.

So when you are down and out, just do one of the above or better still write your own fighting sadness list and tick it off daily till you are feeling happy as a lark. Have a great day everybody.

Quote: Life will bring you pain all by itself. Your responsibility is to create joy-Milton Erickson


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday snapshot

Splendid view of a tea plantation at Cameron Highlands, Malaysia. Rolling hills with caterpillar like tea shrubs dotted by trees and petite houses.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Book blogger hop - January 1/14- 1/17

Book Blogger Hop

Book blogger hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy-for-books. It's just the perfect platform for book bloggers to connect and discover what each other are reading. I must admit its been quite some time since I joined book blogger hop. Well its time to mingle again.

This week's question comes from Barb who blogs at Sugarbeat's Books.

 "Why do you read the genre that you do?  What draws you to it?"

My answer: Sometimes I categorize myself as truly eclectic but most of the time I just call myself  multicultural fiction and contemporary fiction lover. What draws me to multicultural genre? I would say their sheer cultural appeal, be it IndianJapanese, Chinese or even middle eastern multicultural stories. There is just something soothing about curling up with a book which can identify with our sense of values and norms. There is also the sheer pleasure of getting to know a totally different culture. My first multicultural novel was The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Since then I was hooked on reading more multicultural books. They simply rock.

I love contemporary fiction for their  realistic touch, the down to earth peoples stories which not only is  thought provoking sometimes but also touches one's heart. 

Besides these two genre's I do read thrillers and memoirs. So what is your favourite genre ? Do share it with me here.

Cheers and happy weekend!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fish tales

Currently I'm in a reading slump. I can't seem to pick up a book and concentrate, try as I might yet I can't. I guess the books that I have  are not inspiring as well. I tried reading Corner shop by Roopa Farouki but  it just cant seem to hold my attention. So, I've switched to another historical fiction set in Malaya and Japan, called Leaving the heart behind by Joan Foo Mahony. So far so good.

Meanwhile, to banish my boredom, I went and got myself a tiny fish tank and bought some guppies. They are adorable.  It's been four days already and all are still alive and thriving. Initially I thought I bought two males and two females but upon scrutinizing them I realized that there are three male guppies. Ooops. That explains why the female guppy was getting harassed all the while. The ratio of male to female should be 1:2 so that the females are not harassed too much as guppies are forever courting. Right after landing in his new home the male guppy was already flaring his fins near the female to court her. Talk about speed. Today I went along and bought some smooth pebbles and a aquatic plant to cheer up their drab looking home. I hope to see some guppy babies soon, the pebbles and plant would provide some space for them to hide. Now the tank is looking oh so cute, so Zen like. The guppies seem to be enjoying exploring every nook and cranny. I'm loving it.

Guppies with colourful finnage are male, dull coloured guppies are female
Zen looking fish tank

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Book review: The weight of heaven

Title: The weight of heaven

Author: Thrity Umrigar

Genre: Multicultural fiction, contemporary fiction

First sentence reads: A few days after Benny's death, Ellie and Frank Benton broke into separate people.

South Asian Challenge : 1/5 (South Asian Explorer)

Rating: 5/5

This is my second time reading Thrity Umrigar's work and my first book for South Asian Challenge. I must say I'm impressed, not just by the plot but by the breathless way the story moves. It takes a real master of emotion and human understanding to write a story like how Thrity Umrigar does. 

The title of the book might sound heavy and deep but the storyline just blows the mind away. Powerful is the word. Umrigar bares human soul in her writing and each fault and weakness is portrayed as humanly as possible without callous judgement. 

Im raving about this author I know. Back to the review.  Frank and Ellie Benton lost their 7 year old child, Benny to sudden illness. That devastates them and the happy cocoon their life had been is torn to shreds. Frank blames Ellie for the unfortunate incident and this drives them apart. To mend the rift in their life after Benny's death, they relocate from Ann Harbour to Girbough, India by taking up a job offer at Herbal solution company. India which was suppose to heal them casts more heartbreak their way. Frank develops affection for his housekeepers (Prakash and Edna) son Ramesh. This simple innocent gesture evokes a cascade of event beyond Frank and Ellie's imagination. 

Its a heartbreaking story but in a gentle way. It's never too dark or heavy but weaves us through with a whole lot of emotion and thought. The relationship issues that Frank and Ellie face after the death of their son would show the aptitude of the author in bringing  raw emotion and stark truth that each and every one of us face at certain time of our life. It catches us off-guard with  the moral issue it brings along. I loved the characters Ellie, the housekeepers Prakash and his wife Edna and their son Ramesh. I loved the fact that all of them were flawed but are part of tapestry of life. However, Frank was a tough one to like. Overall, this book was great and I loved Thrity Umrigar's writing. She did an amazing job.

Favourite Quotes:

~Ellie wished suddenly that someone would invent an album for filling moments, just as you could photographs~

~It's just the way our culture is-even grief comes with an expiration date, you know? You are suppose to nod and smile because raw emotion embarrasses other people~