Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Note on Graphic Novels

I was browsing some books at a bookshop the other day when I overhead a conversation between a father and his young son. The kid asked why there were no pictures in the novel his father had picked out. "That's because these books are for grown-ups," the father explained. The man told his son that he would also read these wordy books without pictures someday as he advances in the education ladder. He added that only little kids such as his son read comics and graphic novels.

This conversation made me think of what my opinion on graphic novels was. A couple of years ago, I would have grudgingly sided with the father. How many times have I kept my Archie comics in my backpack, not daring to read in public for fear of being seen as "immature"? But then, I thought of how my secondary school teachers react to students reading graphic novels and those reading lengthy novels during free period. Teachers would praise students reading the wordy novels but would ask those with comics and graphic novels to keep them away and urge them to read something more "academic". Now thinking about it, didn't graphic novels and novels serve the same purpose of entertaining us while we waited for the free period to be over?

Since starting uni, I've been introduced to different forms of literature. I was a tad surprised when I found out a graphic novel was on my reading list for one of my literature units last year as yes, at that time I did not see it being "academic" enough. But since then, I've changed my mind about this genre. I have long associated graphic novels with my childhood that I have dismissed it as a literary genre. Last year, I reignited my love for graphic novels. Graphic novels, like any other forms of literature keep us entertained. Emotions could be evoked from this art form and lessons could be learnt through the execution of the story. Here's a short list of graphic novels that showed me there's so much more to graphic novels:

1. Maus by Art Spiegelman

Image via Goodreads

Maus is a non-fiction that depicts Spigelman's father's experience during the Holocaust. I've read a few Holocaust stories before this but never one that made me as emotional as Maus did. By depicting the characters as animals instead of human face, it initially gave me a bit of comfort that this would create a distance between me and the story. But even using this method, the reality of the Holocaust as experienced by Vladek and its aftereffects were so awful that the story left a heavy feeling in my heart. Maus gave me a different perspective on the Holocaust. Through this read, I've learned more about this historical event.




2. The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Image via Goodreads

Persepolis tells the story of Satrapi's life in Tehran during the Iranian revolution. I was kept entertained and through this read, I've gained new insights on the political and cultural aspects of the Iranian society of the time. There was humour (which I did not expect from a book about experiences during war) amidst sad and heartwarming parts of the story.








3. Blankets by Craig Thompson

Image via Goodreads

Blankets has a special place in my heart. It tells of the author's personal stories of his childhood and his first love. Thompson crafted a beautiful, touching and at times, disheartening story. Thompson's art is beautiful. There were times when I had to take a moment to appreciate the artform itself throughout my read before going back to the story. This graphic novel moved me and stayed with me for days after my read.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot



Image via Goodreads
Title: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Author: Rebecca Skloot

Release Date: February 4th, 2011
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Source: Bought
Genre: Non-fiction, biography, science


Blurb:

Henrietta Lacks, as HeLa, is known to present-day scientists for her cells from cervical cancer. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells were taken without her knowledge and still live decades after her death. Cells descended from her may weigh more than 50M metric tons. 

HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks was buried in an unmarked grave.

The journey starts in the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s, her small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia — wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo. Today are stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells, East Baltimore children and grandchildren live in obscurity, see no profits, and feel violated. The dark history of experimentation on African Americans helped lead to the birth of bioethics, and legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is not really about Henrietta Lacks, rather, it's about the issue of tissue rights.

I am not a fan of the book. I think it's great that Skloot could bring about a public awareness to bioethics and that the world now know the existence of a woman behind the HeLa cells. However, I did not appreciate how Skloot uses Lack's family as a tool to achieve such a goal. Also, in doing so, Skloot established a negative image of the Lack's family as a stereotypical black family.

The sons of Henrietta Lacks are often portrayed as violent and simply wanting money. Deborah Lacks, who was also Skloot's main source for information, was portrayed as ignorant and at times, frivolous.

This book is a required reading for my literature unit in uni. Through that unit, I was introduced to the "nice white lady" trope. That is, there is always a "nice white lady" to help guide the helpless, ignorant people of colour and 'save' them from their dilemmas. This trope is actually quite common in today's literature and film. I do feel that this trope is quite present in this book.

Perhaps Skloot's intention was noble. Perhaps Skloot does intend to seek justice for the Lack's family. However, her techniques used in executing their story often cast the Lack's as ignorant, naive and helpless. There were also a lot of personal details on the Lacks's family that do not have any relevance to the subject of the story.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume



Image via Goodreads
Title: The Mystery of a Hansom Cab
Author: Fergus Hume

Release Date: 1886
Source: Project Gutenberg
Genre: Classics, Mystery, Crime


Blurb:

The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, the best selling mystery of the nineteenth century. When a man is found dead in a hansom cab one of Melbourne’s leading citizens is accused of the murder. He pleads his innocence, yet refuses to give an alibi. It falls to a determined lawyer and an intrepid detective to find the truth, revealing long kept secrets along the way. Fergus Hume’s first and perhaps most famous mystery... The Mystery Of A Hansom Cab.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Two men got into a cab in the dead of night, one of whom asked to be dropped off first whilst the other was later found dead by the driver. As the story progresses, the detective who was assigned to this case, Mr. Gorby went around Melbourne looking for clues of the identities of the passengers, particularly that of the supposed murderer.

The Mystery of a Hansom Cab transported me to 19th century Melbourne. Amidst the mystery of the murder in a hansom cab, it showed me glimpses of the lifestyles of the rich and the poor Melbournians at the time.

I was particularly fascinated with the use of the Melbourne landscape in the story.  According to my literature professor, the city shapes the story. In the case of this book, I definitely see his point. The clues are part of the landscape and for some clues, they are part of the landscape as well.

The suspense kept me guessing at the identity of the murderer. I had heaps of fun playing detective throughout my read that I finished the story in one sitting.

If you're interested in the story, you can actually read it for free at Project Gutenberg, which I shall link it here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Dark Dreams and Dead Things Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway

Thank you to YA Bound Book Tours for letting me take part in this tour. You can check out the full blog tour schedule here :)


Title: Dark Dream and Dead Things (Dead Things #2)
Author: Martina McAtee
Release Date: July 15th, 2016
Publisher: Self published
Source: YA Bound
Genre: YA Paranormal / Urban Fantasy
Purchase Links: Amazon

Blurb:

17-year-old November Lonergan spent her whole life feeling like an outsider. She was right. She’s a reaper like her mother; like her two cousins, Kai and Tristin. The supernatural world believes they are part of a prophecy to save them from an evil known as the Grove. Ember just wants to survive high school and fix the fallout from bringing back her friend. 

Old enemies are lurking; waiting for their opportunity to strike but the pack has a new problem. A group of legendary hunters has resurfaced, threatening the reapers and anybody who stands with them. They are making good on their threats too; attacking those closest to the pack.

Their only hope of defeating the Legionaries involves trusting a stranger to perform a dangerous spell to advance Ember and her cousin’s powers. But Ember has a secret; a secret she can’t tell the pack. One that leaves the pack vulnerable.

An attack on pack allies, leaves one member of the group injured and another missing, along with a mysterious girl named Evangeline who may play a bigger part in this than any of them realize. As the Legionaries are closing in, the pack must trust their enemies, enter hostile territories, and play a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a psychopath. Their entire plan lynches on a dangerous bargain, but rescuing one member of the pack could mean losing another in their place…possibly forever. 

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars


In the sequel to the Dead Things series, Dark Dreams and Dead Things picked up where the first book left off. What I find most interesting is the world where the story took place in- a world where witches, werewolves, reapers, banshee exist. That is what has first drawn me to this series. This world is filled with so much possibilities in the direction which the future plot may progress and I found that really exciting as a reader.

Quinn’s character development is probably what I enjoyed the most in this sequel. It’s entertaining to watch his character evolve and attempt to embrace his new identity. Quinn is slowly becoming my favourite character. I really feel for Quinn and the struggle he had to deal with because of a decision made for him.

What I didn’t like about the book could be summed up into one word: Tristin. She really annoyed me throughout my read. If I could reach out and just strangle some sense into that banshee, believe me I would. I just can’t accept the way she treats Quinn, especially after what she’d done. And she was so horrible to Ember even when her anger towards Ember was often times uncalled for. I do hope there would be some character growth for Tristin as this series continue, at least so that she doesn’t get on my nerve as much.


I am pleased with how ‘Dark Dreams and Dead Things’ ended. The final scene was great and it left me curious of what’s to come. There’s still so much story to uncover. I, for one, would love to know more of Neoma’s past. I am also intrigued by Donovan and would love to see more of him in the next book.





About the Author:


Martina McAtee lives in Jupiter, Florida with her teenage daughters, her best friend, two attack Chihuahua’s and two shady looking cats. By day she is a registered nurse but by night she writes young adult books about reapers, zombies, werewolves and other supernatural creatures. She wrote her first story when she was five with an orange crayon on a legal pad she stole from her mom’s office. She’s been writing ever since. Her influences include Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine, Joss Whedon, L.J. Smith and even J.K. Rowling. Living in South Florida provides her with plenty of material for the weird worlds she writes about. When she isn’t working, teaching or writing she’s reading or watching shows involving reapers, zombies, werewolves and other supernatural creatures.

Author Links:

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Giveaway:


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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover


Image via Goodreads
Title: Hopeless (Hopeless #1)
Author: Colleen Hoover

Release Date: May 7th, 2013
Publisher: Atria Books
Source: Borrowed
Genre: New Adult, Romance
Purchase links: Book Depository


Blurb:

Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.
 

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Okay, so here's the deal. I have put off reading this book ever since forever. I thought it was just another depressing story about abuse. Late last night, I decided to just read a few pages to get a feel of the tone of the book. And I ended up staying up all night reading. 

This book is so much more. 

Sure, it deals with issues such as abuse, but it also shows the role family and friends play in getting someone through such an ordeal. And all without having the book being depressing to read.

Sky is a very likeable character. She's strong, or stubborn as she calls herself. Even though she has to deal with the devils of her past, which was slowly unveiled to us as she lets herself remember, I thought she handled it quite well.

I wasn't so sure about Holder at first. His personality and mood seem a bit volatile at the beginning but he's okay. Not book boyfriend material for me, but he's okay.

I didn't expect much from it but I did enjoy my read. And I guess you could say that I live the book, just as Holder and Sky lived for each other.



Monday, July 11, 2016

Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things by Martina McAtee


Image via Goodreads

Title: Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things (Dead Things #1)
Author: Martina McAtee
Release Date: November 29th, 2015
Publisher: Self-published
Source: Author
Genre: YA, Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance
Purchase link: Book Depository

Blurb:

 17 year old Ember Denning has made an art of isolating herself. She prefers the dead. She spends her days skipping school in old cemeteries and her nights hiding from her alcoholic father at the funeral home where she works. When her own father dies, Ember learns her whole life is a lie. Standing in the cemetery that's been her sanctuary, she's threatened by the most beautiful boy she's ever seen and rescued by two people who claim to be her family. They say she's special, that she has a supernatural gift like them...they just don't know exactly what it is. They take her to a small Florida town, where Ember's life takes a turn for the weird. She's living with her reaper cousins, an orphaned werewolf pack, a faery and a human genius. Ember's powers are growing stronger, morphing into something bigger than anything anybody anticipated. Ember has questions but nobody has answers. Nobody knows what she is. They only know her mysterious magical gift is trying to kill them and that beautiful dangerous boy from the cemetery may be the only thing standing between her and death. As Ember's talents are revealed so are the secrets her father hid and those in power who would seek to destroy her. What's worse, saving Ember has put her cousins in danger and turned her friend's lives upside down. Ember must learn to embrace her magic or risk losing the family she's pieced together.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was first drawn to the story based on the blurb. The story opened its first scene at a funeral home and before the end of that first chapter, I was completely hooked.

In the world which McAtee has created, humans could be born into families of shifters, vampires and witches. There are four main characters in this book- Ember, Mace, Tristin and Kai- all of them have their own paranormal abilities. Ember, Tristin and Kai all had reaper abilities but of different varieties. Tristin is a banshee, which I find really cool. Ember, on the other hand, had only just found out that she came from a paranormal background and is learning to control her power.

I like that we get to read from the point of view of different characters. Firstly, this keeps me on the edge of my seat, eager to pry out more details of their backstory. Secondly, there's not a dull moment throughout the plot. Something is always happening and plot twists kept me very much invested in the story.

Reading Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things felt so much like watching a movie. I enjoyed every minute of it.



*Copy of the book is provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.



Saturday, June 18, 2016

" Hold fast to dreams,
  For if dreams die,
  Life is a broken-winged bird
  That cannot fly.

  Hold fast to dreams.
  For if dreams go,
  Life is a barren field
  Covered with snow."

        ~ Langston Hughes, "Dreams"

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Wrong way home

I'm cold. I'm hungry. And it looks like I'm on the wrong bus.

I stared at the GPS spot on my phone. Instead of the route that would get me back to campus, Bus 737 is going in a completely different route. It's okay, I tell myself. It's probably a little detour the bus is taking.

It was when I noticed that we were passing by a forest that I really started to panic. Random thoughts started popping into my head. I scoured my brain for any recent crimes I've heard that took place in a forest. Or any kidnapping that started because someone took the wrong bus. That did not help my situation at all.

I contemplated whether to ask the bus driver for assistance or just get off at the next stop. I chose the latter when the bus stopped at a bus loop of a shopping mall.

This is the story of how I ended up on the other side of town, in a place called Westfield- somewhere I didn't even knew existed before this event. Usually, discovering new places is a fun thing to do, but not when it's getting dark and certainly not when my only means of transportation to get me home is the public transport.

Lost at Westfield
Before the bus that took me here left, I checked and saw that yes, it was Bus 737, but it wasn't en-route to my campus. I've learnt my lesson-- ALWAYS check the bus number and the name of the route. Same number same route.

It was around 6 p.m. when I got off the bus. Most of the shops were already closed then. So, I had to wait for half an hour at the bus loop for the right bus to take me home. A half hour time-out for me to think about what I did, how it could all be prevented had I been more careful.

This incident happened to me a month ago. And today is actually the first time I've headed into the city since the incident. The main reason for not going to the city is to save up some money for other forms of entertainment during the holidays; but I suppose the fear of this happening again plays a teeny tiny role in it as well. But hey, the important thing is that I made it home safe and sound.





Saturday, April 30, 2016

DormLife: What it's like, so far

I've been living on-campus for nearly 3 months now. So, I reckon I should write a post on what living in a dorm (on-campus) is like for me. But before that, I just wanna point out that my experience living in a dorm would probably differ from others'. The dormitory I'm living in only has single bedrooms. That means all tenants still have a little privacy. We do need to share bathrooms, laundry rooms and a kitchen though.

Here's what dorm life is like for me:

Distance to class
There is a short distance from my dorm to class, approximately 15 minutes' walk (I timed myself). The close proximity to class is definitely the main perk of living on-campus for me. Also, another perk is that I'm more 'in-touch' with the going-ons on campus. When you're living on-campus, you just can't help but notice all the flyers pasted at notice boards or different stalls set up on the lawn. This is something I personally wouldn't pay attention to if I didn't live on-campus.

Sharing Bathrooms
When I arrived here, I expected that I'd need to wait a long line before I could take a shower. Thank goodness that wasn't the case at all. On average, a bathroom is shared among a maximum of three persons in my dorm. So far, I haven't even needed to wait to get into the shower. Also, the bathrooms being cleaned on a regular basis added to my satisfaction. But a downside to sharing bathrooms is the awkward moment(s) when it became the only place you meet people. It seems like most of my neighbours meet me only when I look the least presentable. It seems as if they thought the perfect time to carry on a conversation with me was when I'm brushing my teeth. I had to then awkwardly attempt to talk with a mouth full of toothpaste if I didn't think it'd be a long conversation...

Noise
Technically, having a room of your own means that you have some privacy. But, since the walls are quite thin, sound can travel through them. That means that I could hear snippets of the conversation my neighbour is having on the phone even from my room. And if I were to stand in the hallway, the sound could be clearly heard. Since being aware of that, I have to be conscious not to talk too loud when I'm on the phone.

The other thing is that since my room is close to the stairs, I could hear the sound of footsteps going up and down the stairs. This doesn't bother me, as long as it doesn't wake me up after midnight.... and that has happened before.

There were also a few occasions where I'd been woken up by noise from other tenants. So yeah, this is a big downside to living in a dorm.

Kitchen
There are 22 students living on my floor. And there is only a small kitchen for us. Also, the refrigerator's door could not be shut properly at the moment because it's just too packed. Personally, I don't really think that storing my food in that fridge is a particularly hygienic option. Another thing is the constant mess in the kitchen. That's a pretty big downside for me.




Friday, February 19, 2016

A New Chapter Begins...

I've landed in Melbourne for almost a week now and in about two weeks' time, my uni classes would officially start.

A part of me still haven't fully compute the fact that I'm finally doing this.. I have taken that scary leap to try out something new, something totally different from what I did. It's scary and even exciting at the same time. 

A few years ago, when I first started this blog, I was studying accounting in college. It wasn't what I truly wanted but at this point, I can't say that I regret it. I mean, I did gain some knowledge and learn a lot about myself in terms of my interests.

Currently, I'm living on campus, in a single room dormitory. Even though each of us get our own room, living here just reminds me of the dorms I stayed in during National Service in Malaysia. It's just the feeling I get when I have to bump into a lot of faces on my way to the bathroom or kitchen. 


Thursday, November 19, 2015

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

Image via Goodreads
Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz
Release Date: February 21st, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Source: Borrowed
Genre: YA, LGBT, Contemporary, Coming of Age
Purchase link: Book Depository

Blurb:

A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, wow! This book is awesome. I took my sweet time reading this, savouring it and just allowing the story to seep into my soul.

Aristotle, 'Ari', is a 15-year-old boy. He's trying to understand why he feels sad all the time even when he knows he has no reason to. He's angry and moody. Ari has no real friends until Dante.

I didn't think it was my job to accept what everyone said I was and who I should be.

Dante is the opposite of Ari. While Ari keeps his thoughts and feelings to himself, Dante wears his heart on his sleeve. Ari was ashamed of who he was whereas Dante accepted and embraced himself even when he knew that people would judge him for being different. Dante and Ari became fast friends over the summer.

I suppose Ari, in a way, loved Dante even then. He's never felt anything like that for anyone. By that, I mean he's never cared for a friend the way he did for Dante. And that scares him.

The writing is poetic and beautiful. If this wasn't a library copy, I would've highlighted all the sentences I loved instead of copying them out on a paper.

For the music to be over so soon. For the music to be over when it had just begun. That was really sad.

I got to thinking that poems were like people. Some people you got right off the bat. Some people you just didn't get- and never would get.

I could relate to Ari's angsty thoughts about life. Well, that's because I WAS that angsty teen stuck in an ecotone once. I was also trying to discover the secrets of the universe as well.




*For more book reviews, check out my Goodreads page*

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

I know we're cool...

I've been listening to Gwen Stefani's "Cool" on repeat since last Saturday. This song- its melody and the vibe that I got from it- is exactly how I feel at the moment. The song, in its literal sense, is about two former lovers who still managed to remain as good friends after their romantic feelings for each other ended. But it is this pang of nostalgia I got that really pulled me towards this song. I just realised something: most of the personal posts I've done on this blog are on nostalgia... Anyway, as I was saying, I was feeling really nostalgic for the past week or so.

Last Saturday came too soon.

I sent one of my best friends off at the airport that day. She's starting a new chapter in her life: university. It's awfully selfish of me to only think of how I'm gonna miss her and that I won't get to hang out with her anymore.

I mean, sure, she's not the first of my friends to leave home for uni. But, she's the first of my friends whom I've sent off at the airport, knowing that it'd be quite some time before we can see each other in person again. I guess saying our goodbyes at the airport made the leaving part sadder.

I couldn't shake off this shroud of sadness and okay, loneliness that day. And by the way, making a solo trip to the mall after sending a friend off is not a good idea. If anything, it amplified my loneliness that day as I saw people hanging out with their buddies and enjoying their Saturday afternoon.

When I saw the music video for "Cool" on the tele, the song just stuck. It 'got' what I was feeling and that made me feel a little better. I have to remind myself that this is not the end and that after all that we've been through, I know we're cool...

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Image via Goodreads

Title: The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter #1)
Author: Megan Shepherd
Release Date: January 1st, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Bought
Genre: YA, historical fiction, fantasy
Purchase link: Book Depository

Blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London, working as a maid and trying to forget the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumours about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns he's alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she's determined to find out if the accusations were true.

Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward, Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the secret of her father's new life: He experiments on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. 

Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius - and madness - in her own blood.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I was drawn into the story from the very first page, Megan Shepherd's writing took me to historical period London. As Juliet made her journey from the dingy basement of the university's medical building to a remote island where her father had free rein to carry out his experiments on animals, I was there each step of the way. The imagery created is so real that at times it felt as if I watching rolls of old films in my mind.

It has an interesting premise, what with a mad scientist, Juliet and two handsome love interests all being on an island filled with strange natives. Although I did make a right guess about one of the secrets which Juliet's father kept from her, I was surprised by other plot twists.

I enjoyed reading about the romance, maybe a little too much. Just a little. There's Montgomery, who was once a servant in the Moreau household before the scandal that changed Juliet's life took place. And there's Edward, a castaway Juliet met on her journey to the island. The interaction between Juliet and the two love interests are sometimes so charged with sexual tension. And I loved it.


View all my reviews

Friday, July 31, 2015

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Image via Goodreads
Title: Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Release Date: January 8th, 2013
Publisher: Square Fish
Source: Bought
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Sci-fi
Purchase link: Book Depository

Blurb:

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.
 

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think I might have a little crush on Marissa Meyer right now because of this absolutely brilliant story.

When I first found out that the main character is a cyborg and the story has something to do with outer space, I was immediately turned off by the idea. But then, fate stepped in. After Cinder kept popping up in front of me, in bookstores and on my Goodreads feed, I decided to buy the book. I have since owned it for at least a couple of months before finally reading it.

And that was when I realised all the fun I'd missed out on all this time. That and the fact that I was wrong to hold prejudices against cyborgs being main characters of any book.

First of all, I have to say that Marissa Meyer did a superb job on the world-building. The whole idea of the Eastern Commonwealth, the other continents and the moon is just so interesting. And the fact that all of these are interconnected to execute this story is genius.

The characters are equally wonderful. My favourites are definitely Cinder, Kai, Iko and Peony. I really appreciate the fact that Marissa Meyer created a main character who doesn't lose her head when the prospect of love comes around. Cinder is a likeable character who has far important issues, such as the risk of death or imprisonment, to deal with than a romance with a certain guy. And she knows it.

And there's Kai, who's the new Emperor of New Beijing. He's sweet and he might have a little crush on someone but he didn't forget that he's a leader of his nation. So, thank you, Marissa Meyer for showing me that YA dystopian heroes do have the ability to prioritise and take appropriate rational actions when they are facing an impending war.

Monday, June 29, 2015

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Image via Goodreads
Title : P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved                        Before #2)         
Author: Jenny Han
Release Date: May 26th, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Source: Bought
Genre: YA, Contemporary Romance
Purchase link: Book Depository

Blurb:

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I've Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dear Lara Jean,
I've waited a year for you! One whole year for you to figure things out with Peter. But the wait was worth it. So, don't feel bad about it...

I had tons of fun reading this book. Just as the first book did, the sequel also manages to put a smile on my face. Oh, the feels! Lara Jean is as lovely as ever. Also, I love how themes on family, friendships and love play into the story. This is such a cute story,

In P.S. I Still Love You, we finally got a proper introduction to John Ambrose McClaren, whom we met briefly in the first book. He was one of the recipients of Lara Jean's love letters.

I am torn between Peter and John. I like Peter's character- he's sweet and he's confident of himself. But then, there's John and every moment he shared with Lara Jean is just so cute and romantic. And now, I have a crush on him.

I really enjoyed this book, as much as I did the first book. If Jenny Han decides to write a third book to this series (I'm keeping my fingers crossed), I'm all game.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Image via Goodreads
Title : Still Alice
Author: Lisa Genova
Release Date: February 26th, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Source: Bought
Genre: Adult fiction, Contemporary, Illness
Purchase link: Book Depository

Blurb:


Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty, she's a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a renowned expert in linguistics, with a successful husband and three grown children. When she begins to grow forgetful and disoriented, she dismisses it for as long as she can until a tragic diagnosis changes her life - and her relationship with her family and the world around her - for ever.

Unable to care for herself, Alice struggles to find meaning and purpose as her concept of self gradually slips away. But Alice is a remarkable woman, and her family learn more about her and each other in their quest to hold on to the Alice they know. Her memory hanging by a frayed thread, she is living in the moment, living for each day. But she is still Alice.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Once in a blue moon, I would come across a book that affects me emotionally- one that leaves me staring into the space, pondering over the plot and my feels for a few minutes after closing the book. Still Alice is that kind of book for me. I know it's too soon to tell but I bet my emotions over this book will probably stay with me for weeks. This is not much of a book review. But I just want to pen down my feels on this book.

Still Alice is about Alice Howland, a Harvard Psychology professor, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. It was heartbreaking to watch Alice struggle to remember simple things, like her children's names. The thought of how a person's cognitive abilities deteriorates as Alzheimer's disease slowly takes over is terrifying.

When the subject of Alzheimer's disease came to mind, I've always thought of how hard living with an AD patient is for the caregivers. Never have I given any thought on how this disease affects the lives of the patients and how difficult it is for them. This book has shed some light for me on Alzheimer's disease. It has also given me some insight on the disease from the patient's point of view.

I thought of what I would wish I'd done with my life if I have AD. I asked myself that same question again but imagine myself as old and healthy. I gave different answers to the same question. The regrets I might have in life don't matter. What matters is the time we have now. Still Alice showed me that.

The core to this story, for me, is love. The love and support from family and friends make our lives meaningful and worthwhile. Even if we don't remember about it one day.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Book Recommendation: Short Stories

Here's a list of short stories I've read this year which I find really thought-provoking. They are definitely worth a read.


1. The Egg by Andy Weir

Image via Goodreads

This short story really made me think about life in general and how we treat people. I never expected a 4-page story to be so... deep. I would recommend everyone to give this a read. It's definitely worth it. Besides, it's super short.

You can read The Egg here.









2. Ponies by Kij Johnson

Image via Goodreads

Don't mistook the cover for a fluffy read about ponies and rainbow. This short story is actually kinda dark. It's a very interesting depiction of peer pressure and how it controls our actions.

You can read Ponies here.










3. The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin

Image via Goodreads

This short story depicts a moral dilemma. Would you sacrifice the freedom of one child for the happiness of thousands? Or should thousands suffer in exchange of one child's freedom? It's utilitarianism versus liberalism. For me, I chose to walk away from Omelas.

You can read this short story here.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Procrastination

     One of my enemies during finals is, you guessed it: procrastination. That along with TV that decides to air all of their best programmes while I'm supposed to be studying for exams. And let's not mention all my TBR books that are lazing on my bookshelf behind me while I'm studying.

     During exam week this time (ahem, this week), I found myself doing some of the following activities that are not relevant to my tests:

  1. Doing household chores at night. Last Saturday, I was home alone because poor Grace had to stay home and study for her finals. And did she really? Well, no. At around 9 p.m., she decided to vacuum the entire house. Yes, at night. I mean, maybe she was procrastinating but at least she did something productive, eh?

  2. Writing a silly story. It's about a girl who could turn the river pink just by doing her laundry washing by the river. I seemed to be fond of anything to do with chores this week...

  3. Doing research on musical instruments. I've always wanted to learn to play at least one musical instrument in my life. Okay, so the guitar and harmonica didn't work out for me. And I'd lost interest in them after a few months. But I have a reason for that. Are you ready for this? It didn't work for me because it's just not meant to be... Anyway, I've decided on going back to basics and try learning to play the recorder.

  4. Buying a recorder. Yep, I went to the mall today and bought myself a recorder. Thank goodness that it's inexpensive!

  5. Watching YouTube tutorials on how to play the recorder. And I've made progress! I've learned how to place my fingers on the recorder for the music notes B, A and G. But I still play terribly. Gotta work on that.

  6. Watching the pros play the recorder. That is, until I discovered that one of the maestros is actually 15 years old.... What the heck am I doing with my life? That's when I awake from my fantasy of becoming a pro musician. Oh yeah, and I have two more papers to sit for this week.

Well, I guess it's time to get back with my revision and stop procrastinating by blogging about my issue with procrastination.


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Angelfall by Susan Ee


Image via Goodreads
Title: Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days #1)
Author: Susan Ee
Release Date: May 23rd, 2013
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Source: Borrowed
Genre: YA, Dystopia, Fantasy
Purchase Link: Book Depository

Blurb:


It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister, Penryn, will do anything to get her back.
Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.
Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.
Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where Penryn will risk everything to rescue her sister, and Raffe will put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

My rating : 5 of 5 stars

This is my first reread of Angelfall. I didn't write a review on my first read last year as I know that I could never do this book justice. In my opinion, it was just that good. This time around, I  have a strong urge to recommend this book to every one. Well, here goes nothing.


I am not, and have never been, a fan of fantasy books about angels. But I make an exception for this book. It's dark, twisted and just awesome.  I enjoyed the plot, the twists and the characters.

Angelfall is one action-packed book. I was fed scenes after scenes of action that I am sucked into the story right from the very beginning.  Another thing is that there is absolutely no insta-love. I love the witty banter between Raffe and Penryn. I love how they started as enemies and slowly became friends and maybe something more. I love reading about Penryn's Mom and her crazy antics...Okay, now I'm just gushing about the book.

Anyway, I just simply have to post some of my favourite banters between Raffe and Penryn:
“Here, I’ll show you how to use it. Let me see your foot.”
“That’s a pretty intimate demand in the angel world. It usually takes dinner, some wine, and sparkling conversation for me to give up my feet.”
And
“I never kid about my warrior demigod status." 
"Oh. My. God." I lower my voice, having forgotten to whisper. "You are nothing but a bird with an attitude. Okay, so you have a few muscles, I’ll grant you that. But you know, a bird is nothing but a barely evolved lizard. That’s what you are.” 

Penryn might be one of  my fave heroines in YA fiction. She's badass and would do anything to keep her family safe from harm. This girl is tough. She's not some damsel waiting to be saved. Go girl power!