Tuesday, February 22, 2011

TIMES BOOK FAIR @ fahrenheit88!

Venue: Concourse, Ground Floor of fahrenheit88
Date: 23 Feb - 6 Mar 2011
Time: 10am - 10pm

Shall I go??? **itching** But I'm only free on the 5th...I'm sure all the good books would've been bought by other bookaholics by then
:( *sob*

Monday, February 21, 2011

Blackmail Bride by Normanda Whyte

Title/Author: Blackmail Bride/Normanda Whyte
Publisher: Ink-Slinger
ISBN: 978-1-908138-00-2

In a nutshell
Stalked by her abusive ex-husband, Lucy Grant is desperate for a protector. Lucy aims for the one man who is tough enough for the job, ex-convict Jack Welsh.

Found guilty of a crime he didn’t commit, Jack Welsh is convinced Lucy’s ex set him up. Jack will do anything it takes to clear his name - even if it means marrying Lucy.

What I liked
Although I'm not much of a romance novel fan, I enjoy reading about the relationship between Lucy and Jack - seeing how they helped and complemented each other in many ways. Jack's confidence and protective nature helped Lucy with her fears and insecurities, while Lucy's intelligence helped Jack in proving his innocence.

I'm in the middle of finishing the novel, but just couldn't wait to put this up so that you could enjoy this story too :) You can read the first chapter for free and buy it from here.

It’s Ellen Whyte's (my interview with her here) 11th book but her first romance and her first e-book.

Blackmail Bride is available in Standard PDF, Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Sony eReader formats.
The first 50 copies will be sold at £1.49 (converts to EUR1.78, US$2.32 or RM7.32)
The second 50 copies will be sold at £1.99 (EUR2.37, US$3.10 or RM9.77)
Every copy after that will cost £2.49 (EUR2.97, US$3.88 or RM12.25)

10% of the earnings will go to Furry Friends Farm, a no-kill animal sanctuary.

Thanks Ellen for the review copy! :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ish by Peter H. Reynolds

Title/Author: Ish/Peter H. Reynolds
Publisher: Walker Books
Pages: 28
ISBN 13: 978-1-84428-296-8

In a nutshell
To sum it up very simply, ish is about a boy named Ramon, who loved to draw, but was criticised and given harsh remarks by his brother, Leon. Ish is the sequel to The Dot.

What I liked
The first thing that grabbed my attention was the title, 'Ish'. My first reaction was, 'Ish'? As we know it, 'ish' means 'almost like it', or 'not exactly'. For example, when you see yellow that is not really yellow, you say 'yellow-ish'. In Malaysia, some of us use 'ish' to express 'I can't believe you did/said that'. So, instead of saying that, we say, 'Ish ish ish...'

To find out what it meant in this story, I browsed the pages. Ahh...it's that 'ish' that is 'almost like it' and not having to be 'so perfect'. I believe there's a perfectionist in everyone of us; the tendency to be as right or as perfect as possible. Perfectionists are very hard on themselves. There's a student in my class (one of the many whom I love), who's only 7 but is such a perfectionist. He writes ever so slowly, colours ever so carefully (making sure his colours stay within the lines) that he becomes so intense and quiet; everything becomes oblivious to him; hence he lacked team work.

What I liked also was the simple illustration. On each page, you'll see very simple illustrations with no more than 2-3 colours, but became more colourful when Ramon felt more inspired.

It's quite funny too seeing how Ramon let his ish drawings run wild - from tree-ish to afternoon-ish to sun-ish, even writing something poem-ish! Quite cute this one ;)

'Ish' teaches and reminds us not to be hard on ourselves - something very important we need to teach children these days; something we need to exemplify too. I liked this sentence most, "Thinking ish-ly allowed his ideas to flow freely", which brings me to my next point.

What didn't quite sit with me
In this story, Ramon's brother, Leon, laughed at Ramon's drawing. Ramon tried relentlessly after that, to make his drawings look right, but failed. In the end, he threw in the towel, in this case, his pencil, until he saw his sister's room. On her bedroom walls were his drawings. His sister, Marisol, told him that she liked his vase drawing the most. When Ramon told her it was supposed to be a vase of flowers but didn't look like one, his sister said, "Well, it looks vase-ISH!" and that the rest of his drawings all look "....ish". With that, Ramon felt inspired.

Let me explain why am I not quite comfortable with it. I have a student whose handwriting is legible but not neat, not exactly the kind of writing most of us would like to read. And he's aware of it, and tries at times to write neatly. If he were to read this story and ask me, 'So teacher, does it means it's ok for my writing to look -ish too?' What do I say?

If I were to read this book or buy this book for a child, it'd be for someone who's a perfectionist or strives hard to be perfect.

My verdict? Ish-ness and perfection aside, I enjoyed reading it overall, especially the simple illustration :) 4/5

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Some Reads for Valentine's Day?

Found these reads in Times Bookstore in Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur. Thought it'd be quite apt for Valentine's Day. According to reviews, the first one's funny, the second one is helpful for someone who needs tips for a new husband in 5 days...hmmm...
Title/Author: Asian Aphrodisiacs/Jerry Hopkins
Publisher: Periplus Editions/Berkeley Books Pte Ltd (31 Jan 2007)
Pages: 272
ISBN 13: 978-0794603960
Synopsis: "Tiger penis soup? Rhino horn on the oyster half shell? Give me a break!" So says bestselling author Jerry Hopkins as he meets the people, visits the places, and "road tests" dozens of Asia's most popular aphrodisiacs in the first definitive survey of the region's best and worst "turn-on's. Hopkins travels from Bangkok to Tokyo, Jakarta, Hong Kong and Kathmandu in search of the region's most exciting pick-me-ups. Along the way, he discovers that Asia was first in the development and prescription of aphrodisiacs, first in pornography and sex toys, and first in breast and penis enhancement surgery. In this exhaustively researched and often hilarious investigation of a subject that has held the world enthralled for thousands of years, the author discovers that Asia has been - and still is - in the lead when it comes to the promise of sexual enhancement.

Title/Author: Have a New Husband by Friday/Dr. Kevin Leman
Publisher: Revell
Pages: 224
ISBN 13: 978-0800719128
Synopsis: (A gist from amazon.com) Have a new husband by Friday? Is that even possible? Dr. Kevin Leman says it is. Here's how Leman suggests she handle it day to day: Monday: Secrets Revealed: Cracking the Male Code
Yes, you're different species, but you can work together in harmony. Tuesday: Creatures from Another Planet . . . or Creatures of Habit? To understand men, you have to track 'em to their den. Wednesday: Think about What You Want to Say, Then Divide It by Ten How to talk so your guy will really listen . . . and listen so your guy will really talk. Thursday: Think of Him as a Seal Waiting for a Three-Pound Fish Why making love to your man is a key to who he is and how satisfied he'll be, and what's in it for you. Friday: It Takes a Real Woman to Make a Man Feel like a Real Man How to open your man's heart, revolutionize your love life, and turn him into the knight you've always dreamed of.

Have a happy Valentine's Day, everyone! :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hector And The Search for Happiness by Francois Lelord

Title/Author: Hector And The Search For Happiness
Publisher: Gallic Books
No. of Pages: 180
ISBN 13: 978-1-906040-23-9

In a nutshell
Hector, a successful young psychiatrist, sets off round the world to find out what makes people happy and sad, and whether there is such a thing as the secret to true happiness

What I liked
I liked the overall simplicity - from the front cover to the language and style. Hmmm....and Hector (on the front cover) somehow reminded me of Dilbert. But what I don't understand is, why have 2 different depictions of Hector? (Refer to another cover below) Is it because it's published by different publishers? Even so, they could have avoided depicting two different versions of Hector and stuck with consistency.

And Hector's voice in the book, somehow, to me, resembled Alice in Alice in Wonderland (Probably due to the fact that I read this book after reading Alice in Wonderland haha).

I also liked the simple list of 'What's Happiness' that Hector keeps. These are some of my favourites.
Lesson no. 7: It's a mistake to think that happiness is the goal.
Lesson no. 8: Happiness is being with the people you love.
Lesson no. 14: Happiness is to be loved for exactly who you are.

But these are some that I can't agree:
Lesson no. 5: Sometimes happiness is not knowing the whole story. (If it were to be my version, I'd list it as 'Happiness is knowing the whole story and being able to accept things as they are.')

Lesson no. 11: Happiness is having a home and a garden of your own. (I'd do with just 'Happiness is having a family and a home.')

What I didn't like
The simplicity concept didn't quite work for this story. I mean, we're dealing with a complex issue here - finding happiness - and for it to be written with such simplicity and so lightheartedly, made seeking happiness sound trivial.

For an experienced and successful pyschiatrist, Hector sounds so child-like and naive. He uses word like "bad people", one night stands as "we did what people do when they are in love", or first class as "the most expensive part of the plane...." or France as "the country where Hector is from" and US as America as "the Big Place with the most psychiatrists", or as "the land of More". I don't see what's wrong with mentioning the country's name...

I couldn't quite place this book, because the tone and manner used is much suited for a children's book, but this isn't one.

After finally arriving at the final page, I didn't find anything new or inspiring. Most of them are either stuff you'd already know or have read about somewhere, or in those 'positive notes/postcards' you see in bookstores.

If you wanna know more about happiness in depth, you're better off reading 'The Art of Happiness' by Dalai Lama, or 'Eat Pray Love' by Elizabeth Gilbert.

My suggestion? If you're really thinking of reading/getting this book, read it when you've got nothing else to read or you've got a couple of hours to kill. But who knows, you might enjoy its simplicity after reading those complex books on happiness.

Definitely not my cup of tea.

My verdict? 2.7/5

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Facts you didn't know about Alice In Wonderland

I came across these facts about Alice in Wonderland in one of the many versions of the book, and thought they were interesting. So I'd like to share them with you :)

#1 The author, Lewis Carroll, whose real name is Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, was very meticulous and had this habit of making lists and keeping records of everything that he did. He even kept records of all the letters that he wrote - a total of 98,721 letters, from January 1861 until his death in 1898!

#2 Mock Turtle soup IS REAL! It was a popular dish in Victorian times. It was made from parts of a calf.

#3 Alice Liddell is the little girl who inspired this story. Read more here. Read a review of a historical fiction based on Alice Liddell's life (Alice I Have Been) here.

#4 In the 1930s Alice in Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking Glass, were banned from publication in China because the Chinese authorities objected to the animals in the story talking like humans.

#5 Before it was called Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the author named it Alice's Adventures Under Ground. (The characters in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland called it Under Land.)

# 6 Did you know there is a special day which celebrates silliness called Mad Hatter's Day? It's celebrated on 10/6 (10th June in Great Britain, 6 October in the US), after Tenniel's (the illustrator) illustration of the Mad Hatter's hat which says 10/6, although it is thought that 10/6 was actually the price of the hat (ten shillings and sixpence in old English money.)

(Got the above information/facts from Puffin Books' Puffin Classics (978-0-131-32107-3)

I must say, I had so much fun reading this book. It's filled with witty conversations, clever play of words and not to mention, the brilliant illustrations that made Alice and Wonderland come to life!

Let me share with you some of my favourite quotes/conversations:
1) Alice: And how many hours a day did you do lessons?
The Mock Turtle: Ten hours the first day, nine the next, and so on.
Alice: What a curious plan!
The Gryphon: That's the reason they're called lessons, because they lessen from day to day.

2) Alice and the Cat:
Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don't much care where.
The Cat: Then it doesn't much matter which way you go.
Alice: …so long as I get somewhere.
The Cat: Oh, you're sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.

3) The Duchess: Be what you would seem to be -- or, if you'd like it put more simply -- Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.

4) The Duchess: You're thinking about something, my dear, and that makes you forget to talk. I can't tell you just now what the moral of that is, but I shall remember it in a bit.
Alice: Perhaps it hasn't one.
The Duchess: Tut, tut, child! Everything's got a moral, if only you can find it.

And my favourite of the favourites....
5) March Hare: …Then you should say what you mean.
Alice: I do; at least - at least I mean what I say -- that's the same thing, you know.
Hatter: Not the same thing a bit! Why, you might just as well say that, 'I see what I eat' is the same as 'I eat what I see'!
March Hare: You might just as well say, that "I like what I get" is the same thing as "I get what I like"!
The Dormouse: You might just as well say, that "I breathe when I sleep" is the same thing as "I sleep when I breathe"!

Tell me if those weren't great stuff! :)) Do you have some favourite conversations too?

This is the kind of story I can read over and over again, and still find something new in it!

(The top most picture is a clearer cover of Alice in Wonderland I got from here.)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Some of My Favourite Buys in 2010

I've been keeping these pictures in my phone for awhile now. I'm uploading them here to share them with you :) These are some of my favourite buys in 2010. Why do I love them?
1) As you can see, most of them are classics :)
2) The beautiful pictures! The illustrations are so breathtaking they come alive in my mind.
3) The indescribable feelings they evoke when I turn the pages. (These are the things an e-book can't do!)

So what do we have here:
1) Illustrated Tales from Shakespeare
2) The World of Pooh Collection
3) The Secret Garden
4) Life of Pi
5) Alice in Wonderland

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


The Story behind Chinese New Year
So. What's the story behind Chinese New Year (CNY)? There are various versions of this celebration. According to myths and legends, the beginning of Chinese New Year started with the fight against a terrible mythical monster called Nian (means 'year'). He would come on the first day of New Year to devour livestock, crops, and even villagers, especially children.

A wise old man came to know about it and advised the villagers to ward off the evil Nian by making loud noises with drums and firecrackers and hanging red paper cutouts and scrolls on their doors because the Nian is terrified of the color red.

The villagers heeded his advice and the Nian was defeated. On the anniversary of the date, the Chinese recognize the “passing of the Nian” known in Chinese as guo nian (过年), which is also synonymous with celebrating the new year.

Taboos of CNY
1. The entire house must be cleaned before CNY. Put away all brooms, brushes, dust pans and other cleaning equipment. Sweeping cannot be done on CNY because it's believed that if you do so, good fortune will be swept away.
2. Don’t use sharp cutting objects like knives and scissors on CNY because this is believed to be cutting off your good fortune again.
3. On the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, every door in the house, and even windows, have to be open to allow the old year to go out.
4. Wear brand new clothes, preferably red, as for the Chinese, red means fortune.
5. Pay off your debts before CNY. During the period of Chinese New Year, it is also said that one should not lend out money. Likewise, you also should not borrow money during Chinese New Year.

Last but not least,....this:
6. Don’t buy books during the 15 days of Chinese New Year. The word ‘book’ in the Chinese language sounds close to the word ‘lose' in Chinese. You sure won't wanna start your new year losing anything, especially your luck and fortune. (Oh deeeear! *sob*)

Do all that (I hope I don't break rule #6 :( ) and may this Year of the Rabbit bring you lots of joy, peace, wealth, health & happiness! Happy CNY!! :)

Those who aren't celebrating, have a good holiday!

(To view a larger image of the card, please click on it)


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