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The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

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Title/Author: The Marriage Plot / Jeffrey EugenidesPublisher: FSG New York
Pages: 406
ISBN 13: 978-0-374-53325-0
In a nutshell
I'd say this novel is a combination of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer and One Day by David Nicholls. It's a love story with lots of teenage angst. What helped it score a notch higher than the other two is of course the language and the literary theories that revolved around The Marriage Plot.

The story concerns three college friends from Brown University who graduated from Brown University in 1982. The friends - Madeleine, Leonard, and Mitchell, are 'victims' of a love triangle. Mitchell loved Madeline, who loved Leonard who's mentally depressed.

Madeline tries to accept Leonard's condition, while Leonard tries to keep what's left of his 'sanity' by trying to hold down a job and his relationship, and Mitchell, the hopeless romantic, tries to get over Madeline and find spiritual enlightenment.

The story follows them in their senior yea…

Found in Malaysia Vol 2 by The Nut Graph

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Title/Author: Found in Malaysia Vol. 2/The Nut GraphPublisher: Zi Publications Pages: 256 ISBN 13: 978-9675-26622-5
In a nutshell
Found In Malaysia Vol. 2 consists of 50 interviews. This volume is divided into 7 sections - 1930's right up to the 1980's and an 'Exclusive' (never-before published interviews) section which include personalities such as Lillian too, Asha Gill, Khairy Jamaluddin and Baru Bian.

Throughout these pages, you'll find Malaysian celebrities like Patrick Teoh, Daphne Iking, Mano Maniam and Harith Iskander; and politicians such as Lim Kit Siang, Ibrahim Ali and Teresa Kok sharing their stories and experiences, while comparing the then and now, and their hopes for Malaysia's future.

What I liked I definitely enjoyed reading the first volume more than the second because I didn't know what to expect in the first and was pleasantly surprised by what it offered. Volume 2 shares the same concept and idea, but it has more well-known public figures as…

Stop the Bullying! by Andrew Matthews

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This is a book every parent and teacher should and must read.
In a nutshell
This book is about: why bullies bully, why bullied kids don't tell their pareents, and how bullied kids can make a stand.
It is also about: how parents sometimes create bullies, what schools can do about bullying, bullying in the workplace, preventing suicide, and how bystanders can help.
Stop the Bullying! is divided into 15 chapters:
1. Bullied to death, 2. Bullying at school, 3. Bullying at home, 4. Why bullies bully, 5. Girl bullying, 6. Tips for bullied kids, 7. How can I like myself? 8. Not my child! 9. No innocent bystanders, 10. Loneliness amongst our teens, 11. Raising young children, 12. Who's in charge? 13. Let your children know you love them, 14. What you can do, 15. Kindness
What I liked
I learnt alot from reading this book. As a teacher, these methods will come in handy. I have highlighted some of the lessons/methods suggested in this book.

"Young people learn best when they focus on how the…

Eugenides HAS A NEW BOOK!

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Finally. FINALLY! Another book from the author who wrote one of my favourite books of all times. He's back with, THE MARRIAGE PLOT, which comes out in October, somewhere mid I think. It's another love story, and it's a book about other books. As some of you may already know, I'm not into love stories, but...(there's always a BUT! :)) anything written by Eugenides is an exception (all because of Middlesex :P) So. I'm going to give The Marriage Plot, his 3rd novel a try :)

What's The Marriage Plot about? I googled and this is what I found:
Madeleine Hanna, the 22-year-old heroine of Jeffrey Eugenides's long-awaited follow-up to Middlesex, is an English major unfashionably absorbed in Regency and Victorian literature. This is at a time, the early 1980s, when her contemporaries at Brown University are in thrall to the radical opacities of poststructuralism: "How wonderful it was when one sentence followed logically from the sentence before! What exquisit…

Banned Books Week (September 24 - October 1, 2011)

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Heard of 'Banned Book Weeks' before? Well, Banned Books Week is the only national celebration of the freedom to read. It was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,000 books have been challenged since 1982.

During the last week of September every year, hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the US draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books and hosting a variety of events. The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings. Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections.

Since the inception of Banned Books Week in 1982, libraries and bookstores throughout the country have staged local read-outs as part of their…

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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Title/Author: The Night Circus/Erin Morgenstern
Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 400
ISBN 13: 978-0385534635

In a nutshell
This introduction itself hooked me:
"The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, “the Circus of Dreams”, and it is only open at night."

This novel takes place between February 1873 and January 1903 and follows this travelling circus and its cast of acrobats, contortionists, magicians and fortune-tellers, and fabulous attractions such as the Carousel, the Cloud Maze, The Stargazer, the Wishing Tree, the Labyrinth, Bedtime Stories, the Ice Garden, and the Pool of Tears, just to name a few.

But behind those mysterious black and white stripes tents and iron gates that surrounded the circus, lies a story which some aren't aware of, the story of two young…

Night by Elie Wiesel

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Title/Author: Night/Elie Wiesel
Publisher: Bantam Books
Pages: 109
ISBN 13: 978-055-327-253-6

In a nutshell
Night is narrated by Eliezer (Elie Wiesel) a survivor of the Holocaust during WWII. Wiesel recounts his experiences as a Jewish boy of about 13 as his family is first restricted to a ghetto in his hometown, Sighet, in Hungarian Transylvania. They were then transported by train to Auschwitz where he is separated from all of his family except for his father, who becomes his only reason for life over the next couple of years. In this short book Wiesel tells us his deportation to the concentration camps at the age of 15 and his struggle to survive.

My thoughts
Unlike others, I couldn't finish this book in one sitting. It took me one week. Each time I read about the helpless Jews struggling to survive the brutality of the Nazis, I felt sick in the stomach. I just couldn't comprehend how could one be so inhumane? How can one find pleasure in torture and in burning and burying …

Diary of a Wimpy Vampire

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Title/Author: Diary of a Wimpy Vampire: Prince of Dorkness/Tim Collins
Publisher: Michael O' Mara Books
Pages: 224
ISBN 13: 978-184-317-524-7

In a nutshell
Nigel Mullet was transfored into a vampire at the awkward age of fifteen, and had remained this age for ever, and spent eternity struggling through a confusing, challenging adolescent phase. So yeah, this book is more suitable for kids aged 12 - 15.

After more than 80 years of being single, he finally got a girlfriend, Chloe. All was fine until Chloe begged him to turn her into a vampire. It frustrated him and he had tried delaying her request as long as possible by coming up with all sorts of excuses. He then regretted it when Chloe started hanging out with his nemesis, Jason, who later became Chloe's boyfriend.

With that, Nigel vowed to get revenge. But the more he discovered about Jason, the more confused he got. He was just as good as Nigel in sports. And once, he saw Jason and his family take out 4 large bags of dog bi…

Wise words from the story of "The Pig & The Horse"

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My hubby shared this wonderful story with me and I'd like to share it with you too :)

There was a farmer who collected horses; he only needed one more breed to complete his collection. One day, he found out that his neighbor had the particular horse breed he needed. So, he constantly bothered his neighbor until he sold it to him. A month later, the horse became ill and he called the veterinarian, who said:
"Well, your horse has a virus. He must take this medicine for three days. I'll come back on the 3rd day and if he's not better, we're going to have to put him down."

Nearby, the pig listened closely to their conversation.

The next day, they gave him the medicine and left. The pig approached the horse and said:
"Be strong, my friend. Get up or else they're going to put you to sleep!"

On the second day, they gave him the medicine and left. The pig came back and said:
"Come on buddy, get up or else you're going to die! Come on, I'll help yo…

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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Title/Author: A Monster Calls/Patrick Ness

Publisher: Walker Books
Pages: 269
ISBN 13: 978-0141039701

In a nutshell
A Monster Calls is about a teenage boy, Conor, who has to come to terms with his mom, the only person he cares about and loves, not recovering from cancer. He has nobody he could turn to. He doesn't get along with his grandmother and his dad now lives with his new family. His school life isn't any better either. In the midst of all these problems, the Monster appears, wrecking his life even further, or so he thinks.

What I thought of it
I was first drawn to the black and white illustration by Jim Kay. Dark, sombre, yet beautiful - a great complement to the tone and mood of the story. The complexity of the illustration was a nice balance to the straight forward manner in which the story was written.

'A Monster Calls' deals with family issues, teenage angst, peer pressure, loneliness and confusion - all of which young Conor had to come face-to-face with, alone, unt…

Monster by Allan Hall

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Title/Author: Monster/Allan Hall
Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages: 269
ISBN 13: 978-0141039701

In a nutshell
On 28th August 1984, Josef Fritzl drugged his teenage daughter Elisabeth with ether and imprisoned her in a soundproof underground bunker, behind eight locked doors for 24 years. He raped and abused her. She bore him 7 children.

The author has packed a great deal of insightful information into the 269-page book, complete with 150 interviews with neighbours, former tenants, childhood friends, police officers, and photographs of those involved and diagrams of the dungeon.

‘Monster’ is definitely not for the faint-hearted. It contains gruesome details, chilling confessions, terrifying truths, and a lot of ugliness - exactly what one should expect from reading about a cold-blooded animal who finds gratification in raping and abusing his own flesh and blood.

See if you can stomach this:
The police force which was tasked to probe the dungeon were ordered to undergo psychological counselling as…

A grasshopper reading! :D

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A grasshopper, caught browsing in a bookstore! Looked like it was spoilt for choice! hehe Such a great shot! :) Thanks Chaz for sharing it with me!

Room by Emma Donoghue

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Title/Author: Room/Emma Donoghue
Publisher: Little, Brown
Pages: 496
ISBN 13: 978-0316120579

In a nutshell
Ma was 19 when she was kidnapped, raped and kept in this room. When Jack was 5, she had lived in there for 7 years. And for 7 years, she did what all loving mothers would do – love, nurture and protect her son the best she could, even in that small space with limited resources. And for 7 years, she had to comply with her kidnapper, Old Nick’s whims and fancies, so that he wouldn’t get angry and hurt her and Jack, and continued to supply them with the basic necessities they needed to stay alive.

The story’s told from Jack’s perspective. The first half of the book introduces you to Room, Jack and Ma, and it’s not a pretty picture, I can tell you. Being able to enjoy life’s luxuries, and then being shoved to live in an 11 by 11 foot, sound-proofed space would definitely be the worst nightmare anyone could experience. But Ma made it beautiful for him. She created a world of imagination fil…

STORYTELLING TIME @ Times Bookstore, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur

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Everyone's invited! Please come! Kids, especially ;)

It’s Storytelling Time!

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
Presented by Cambridge English For Life

He has terrible tusks, and terrible claws,
And terrible teeth in his terrible jaws!

Oh yes, he’s one ugly monster! And guess what? A tiny, brave mouse will have to defeat the monster to save his dear life! But,…how?

Come and join us for a storytelling session that will take you through a deep dark wood and unravel the crafty plans of this very smart mouse.

And there are prizes to be won when you participate in our games and activities!

Looking forward to seeing you
on: 10th June, 2011
at: 2.30pm
in: Times Bookstore, Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur

See you there!

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

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Title/Author: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks/Rebecca Skloot
Publisher: Pan MacMillan
Pages: 384
ISBN 13: 9780330533447

In a nutshell
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is more than just a story about a woman and her cells which are still alive till today. Not only have they been replicated, distributed, and used without the owner's consent, but they have also saved millions of lives and earned big corporations a lot of money. And yet, nobody has heard of her until today. And yet, the Lacks's family can't even afford health coverage.

"It's a story inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we’re made of."

It's a story which allows us and her family to learn of the life of a woman who continues to live on and save millions of lives throughout the world. It's a story of family, love, loss, faith, trust and betrayal.

What I liked
I was a…

One Day by David Nicholls - THE MOVIE

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So, the movie is here! Check out the trailer:


Hmm...the movie looks quite promising... :)

If you'd like to read the book review, click here.

The 20 Essential Indian Novels

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Thank you Katina for sharing this with me! Read this article and thought it might interest you too. Some really good titles here which might tempt you to add them to your 'To Read' list? ;)

"India's ancient, volatile history, multicultural and multiethnic heritage, and varied geography make it a hotbed for amazing literature. Unfortunately, so few of its vast offerings garner much recognition or renown in the United States. Bibliophiles and students hoping to delve into the dazzling array of Indian literature available might want to consider this list a great, diverse start; however, by no means does this downplay the importance or value of other writers and works.

Untouchable (1935) by Mulk Raj Anand: Untouchable bluntly dives into the plight of the Dalit caste, situated at the desperately poor, sick bottom of the then-rigid social hierarchy. Author Mulk Raj Anand found inspiration in his aunt's experience dining with a Muslim family and subsequent shunning. From t…

God of Carnage (PJLA Malaysia)

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God of Carnage (originally Le Dieu Du Carnage), a French play debuted in Zurich way back in 2006. It has since been adapted into English, playing at London and New York. In 2009, the play was given the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, and won Best Play at the 2009 Tony Awards.

And it's now playing in Malaysia. For more details, go to PJ Live Arts.

In a nutshell
What brought the four characters together is the incident of an 11-year-old boy, Benjamin, has hit another boy, Henry, in the face with a stick at a playground. Alain and Annette, Benjamin's parents, played by Will Quah and Lina Teoh, are visiting the apartment of Michael and Veronica, the victim’s parents, played by Megat Sharizal and Maya Tan Abdullah, to work out a way in which an apology might be made.

It all seemed fine and dandy at first, until the discussion delved into issues such as politics, work, money, and humanity among the four of them.

What I liked
The cast. I think they did a great job. I especially…

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

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In a nutshell
It may seem like a love story, but it’s actually not (covers can be deceiving!), which is why I decided to read it. This story, set around the depression era, is about Jacob who almost graduates from an Ivy League school with a degree in veterinary sciences. Upon finding out his parents’ death and his dad’s debts, he wandered off from home and jumped onto a train, only to find out later that it was a circus train. When the owner of circus, Uncle Al, found out he has a degree in veterinary science, he was hired to be the animal doctor and was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. He ended up spending most of his life there until he had his own family.

What I liked
The story flowed very well, moving from one scene to another very beautifully. What added to its quality for me also is the author’s ability to give the story a very strong sense of place. I could feel like I was in every part of the story – from moving in the train car with Jacob to looking desperatel…

Uncensored version of 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' published!!

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Over 120 years after it was condemned as 'vulgar' and 'unclean', an uncensored version of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray is published by Harvard University Press.

Revised after it was condemned in the British press over 130 years ago as "vulgar", "unclean", "poisonous" and "discreditable", an uncensored version of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray has finally been published.

Seems that Frankel, associate professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University said "the time is ripe for the publication of Wilde's novel in its uncensored form … It is the version of the novel that Wilde, I believe, would want us to be reading in the 21st century … I'm bringing it out of the closet a little more."

To read the whole article, click here.

If not, you can read some of the interesting parts here ;)

These were some of the editing done to make the book "acceptable to the most fastidious taste"…

Meet & Greet Shamini, Author of Inspector Singh Investigates Series!

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Why, oh why on a weekday...? *sob* Anyway,...if you're nearby, remember to meet up with Shamini Flint!

Shamini writes children’s books with cultural and environmental themes including Jungle Blues and Turtle takes a Trip as well as the ‘Sasha’ series of children’s books. She also writes crime fiction, the first two books are Inspector Singh Investigates - A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder and Inspector Singh Investigates: A Bali Conspiracy Most Foul published by Little, Brown, UK in 2009. The third title in the series published in 2010 is Inspector Singh Investigates: The Singapore School of Villainy to be followed by Singh's adventures in Cambodia and India.

Check out her website here.

Author of Three Cups of Tea, fabricated his memoir?

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Read this on themalaysianinsider.com, and started googling. These are what I found:
1) The author's charity organization has taken credit for schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan that don't exist.
2) The porters who accompanied him say he was never lost, and went back to the village a year after his first trip.
3) Mortenson also claims to have been kidnapped by the Taliban, but all the men in a photo from the supposed kidnapping are not actually Taliban, and say they never harmed Mortenson.
4) One of the men, according to CBS, is the director of an influential think tank whose scholarly essays have been published in the U.S.

Mortenson's side of the story:'I stand by the information conveyed in my book, and by the value of CAI's work in empowering local communities to build and operate schools that have educated more than 60,000 students.'

Mortenson said the account of his experiences in Korphe 'was a compressed version of events' that took place in 1993…

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

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Title/Author: Norwegian Wood/Haruki Murakami (Translated by Jay Rubin)
Publisher: Vintage Books USA
Pages: 400
ISBN 13: 9780099554561

Expect no flying elephants, man-eating cats, or any of those surrealist eccentricities that you’d normally find in a Murakami novel. Norwegian Wood is a rather straight forward, coming of age novel of nostalgia. What stayed though is its quiet, still and melancholy tone (which I love). I don’t know why but I always find it hard to summarise and/or review Murakami’s novels. This would be my very first attempt. So here goes.

In a nutshell
Norwegian Wood is about Toru Watanabe and his love affair with beautiful, damsel-in-distress Naoko, whom he’s known since school, and who used to go out with his best friend Kizuki, until he committed suicide. Their relationship deepens when they spent more time with each other after Kizuki’s death, and it somehow affected Naoko who realises she has psychological problems that need to be addressed. So she left for the sanator…

Blogspot Error?

Hmmmm not sure what's wrong with blogspot, cuz I can't seem to make my content break into proper paragraphs even after setting it in 'edit html'. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT BLOGGER.COM!

THE ONE AND ONLY, THE GREATEST of THE GREATEST, MOST DEVIOUS DJINNI IS BAAAACK! :D

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Oh yes....my dear ol' friend, Bartimaeus IS BACK!!! The Ring of Solomon is prequel to the Bartimaeus Trilogy written by Jonathan Stroud. Here is a plot introduction I nicked from Wikipedia: It is the year 950 b.c. and King Solomon of Israel rules his empire from Jerusalem with a steely hand. Upon which rests a magic ring of incredible power. Among the many spirit slaves in the service of the king and his magicians is the djinni Bartimaeus, a spirit with extreme cunning, a sarcastic wit, and an unparalleled reputation for insolence. After botching a construction project, Bartimaeus is sent out into the desert to hunt down a group of bandits attacking Solomon's trade routes, and in the process he encounters Asmira, a girl in the service of the Queen of Sheba. Soon afterwards she drags the reluctant djinni into a seemingly suicidal mission: Kill Solomon and steal the magic ring. This one has got some mix reviews though...: While not as good as the original trilogy, The Ring Of So…

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

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Title/Author: The Gruffalo/Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler
Publisher: Macmillan
Pages: 28
ISBN 13: 978-0-333-71093-7

In a nutshell
Walk into the deep dark wood, meet a quick-thinking mouse and discover what happens when he comes face to face with a ugly, hungry gruffalo.

What I liked
Ever since I took a liking to children's books, I'ver heard and read about Julia Donaldson and her very famous and well-loved 'The Gruffalo'. And I'm privileged and honoured to be given the chance to review some of her books, thanks to Odelia from Pansing :)

I asked my students if they've read 'The Gruffalo' or have been read to, one of them looked at me quizically and asked, 'Is that the story about the clever mouse?' Thrilled that he was right, I said,'Yes! Did you like it?' 'I don't remember much, but I liked the mouse who was small yet smart!'

That's what I loved about the story too :) It's fun to see how this little mouse always manage…