When We Were Orphans (Kazuo Ishiguro)

ImageFirst time reading this author’s book, find his writing style and narration to be quite smooth.  Though the reminiscing part about growing up in Old Shanghai is pretty long – life with his parents and a childhood friend – a Japanese boy named Akira whom he played with; Relationship between the British and Chinese on opium trading, how his parents’ involvement led up to their mysterious disappearance, followed by the protagonist being sent to study in England, became a detective and despite all the crimes he had solved, there’s one unsolved crime which has always haunted him, and led him back to the city of his childhood to find out what happened to his parents.  I find all these to be interesting read, except when comes to the war, and talks of the Chinese Communist Party and Chiang Kaishek, I skipped.

Beside the above, I’m also quite happy to read about Chapei, which was the hometown of my dad.  Had visited Shanghai 3 years ago, been to a place where my dad told me that’s where Chapei was, yet strangely it’s not anywhere near the famous bund. Probably, it’s like what the protagonist said in pg.352, “The streets, though renamed, are perfectly recognisable, and it’s said anyone familiar with the Shanghai of Old would know his way about there.”

Expresso Tales (Alexander McCall Smith)

Did not read 44 Scotland Street, but its Sequel, Expresso Tales was interesting, with all the different characters staying in the neighbourhood.  Pity that poor 6 year-old boy who had to go for all the never-ending yoga, saxophone and psychotherapy sessions arranged by his mother.  Sound so familiar, just like so many parents here who like signing up their kids for extra-curricular lessons and activities so as not to lose out in the educational system.  Anyway, glad Bertie’s father decided to intervene and liberate his son’s freedom.

I was happy for Bertie, and felt as thrilled and excited as him on his train ride to Glasgow with the father.  I was happy for him to be so happy in this trip, yet worried also on his encounter with that swindler Lard.  Wonder will there be another sequel to this Expresso Tales.  Will Lard turn up one day disrupting the lives of the family?  Did they find their own car – where has it gone?  While reading, my imagination led me to wonder whether there’s a phone bug hidden somewhere in that new car so as to trace their wherabout, haha.

What about Gordon and Janis – Is Janis really a gold-digger, preying on Gordon’s money like what his son said?  She seems that to me, what happened in the cafe when she sees Gordon giving the waiter that fifty-pound note, and what’s in her mind.

Then Matthew and Pat – why did the latter suddenly take a liking to Matt when he said his father had given him a huge amount of money – or did she?  Did Pat also like Matt for his money?

What about Dr Fairbairn and his patient Wee Fraser?  I would love to know more.  Or maybe I should go read 44 Scotland Street, to know why in the first place Bertie’s mom like dungarees so much.  Anyway, I find kids look cute and adorable wearing dungarees 😀

The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien)

What an interesting read of fantasy, adventures, and all the exciting happenings encountered during the long and difficult journey to slay the magnificent dragon, Smaug, and reclaim all the jewels and gold to where they belong.  I like the style the story was narrated, which was easy to follow.  Enjoyed every page just like how I have enjoyed reading the Trilogy, that was in 2008.  Thanks to Bookcrossing, I have make a note on my BC profile of the books read, so now I remember.  Never thought I could finish Lord of the Rings, yet now after The Hobbit, it makes me want to continue with the Fellowship of the Ring.  So… that was how that precious came into Bilbo’s possession, and what happened long long time ago before Frodo.

I admired Tolkien’s rich imagination to come up with all these stories, and also the wordings of those songs and riddles in the pages – very amusing and chuckling.

I’m now looking forward to watch the movie, to see all the action of Thorin, the son of Tharin, and the grandson of Thror’s quest, together with his dwarvish companions – Balin, the fat Bombur, Fili and Kili, Ori and Oin etc… with Bilbo and Gandalf, how with their friends they battle with the trolls, spiders, elves, goblins & host of wargs.  So far, this is one classic I like the  most.

Here’s the trailer, couldn’t wait to watch the movie in Dec.

Operation Valkyrie

Had Stauffenberg suceeded in his attempt of assassinating Hitler, he would have been able to reunite with his wife and children and perhaps lived to a ripe old age, like his wife till 96.  In the movie, Valkyrie, he didn’t get to see them after sending them away for safety, and was executed by the firing squad.  Remembered having read from somewhere on this piece of history, and make a note to get the book to read, but instead watched the film adaptation first.  Glad I didn’t missed watching this Sunday movie on ch5.  Was flipping through the Straits Times, and the name Stauffenberg caught my eye.  The movie was exciting and filled with suspense.  The part when Tom Cruise as Stauffenberg asked to be able to change his shirt in the room, and what happened in the room makes me sit on edge, esp when  the guard outside suddenly opened the door and nearly saw what he was doing with the explosives.  Another scene was when Stauffenberg called his comrades and asked whether to proceed with the assassination, he was put on hold, and his message was passed from one to another.  I wonder why so many people involved in the operation, and worried the message might be passed wrongly.  There are also some areas which I find quite funny – all the briefcases underneath the table are similar in colour and design.  Overall, I have enjoyed watching the film adaptation, now I just want to get the book to read, and perhaps watched it again after.  Oh yes, how come in the movie, his eyeball can be removed and put back?

Duolos: Bringing Knowledge, Help and Hope

I had a wonderful time today.  It’s really nice to be able to meet up with fellow bookcrossers from other countries whom you have always been exchanging books with but never met.  And today I got this chance.  Duolos, the oldest passenger ship came to dock at Keppel Marina.  And one of the crew members on board, Carlienka, who’s a bookcrosser from South Africa happened to have finished reading a bookring book due to me.   We arranged to meet up at Vivo City, and we had an enjoyable time chatting over coffee & cakes at Pacific Coffee; and after that being the good host, she showed me around Duolos, though now it’s already quite empty without any books but only empty shelves all covered up, with boxes and stuff all over the place ready to be packed and shipped away.  Duolos has been decommissioned, but I’m still happy I got to visit the ship before it goes to dock in Tuas awaiting what’s next for him.  Of course I hope that it will continue to travel and bring knowledge, help and hope at every port he docks; and bring the joy of reading to all the people in different parts of the world.  If there’s an international fair here again, I’ll be sure not to miss it when time comes.

Thanks to Carlienka for showing me around, and sharing stories of crew members serving on board the ship for many many years, and making the ship their home.  I had a good time on board, and had enjoyed the dinner with Carlienka’s family and other crew members.  Thanks to the chef too, who’s also from South Africa.  We may never meet again, but the good memory will be with me.  Thanks to all.  God Bless.

Sunday Salon: Fantasy and Fairytale

I used to like reading about Dr Scarpetta and her niece, but recently borrowed ‘Black Notice’ from the Library only managed to get through few chapters until the part about the forensic doc  shouting at Lucy and her girlfriend before driving off crying I gave up.  The plots are always similar, both aunt and niece never see eye to eye and I’m starting to dislike Lucy’s attitude.  I had even wanted to return before the Nov-23 due date but only yesterday then remembered to dig out from the clutters on my desk.   These days when I see thick books they scare me a bit.  Either I will read very slowly or I don’t read them immediately until the day my reading mood comes when I can finish it in one sitting, or at least keep me going for few chapters at one go.

Another 2 both recommended from a colleague, about spiritual awakening and seeking one’s destiny kind of stuff by Robin Sharma, whom he said had visited Singapore before yet I’ve never heard of him until now.  Started on ‘Discover your Destiny with the Monk who Sold His Ferrari’, gave up after only first few pages – tough read, too philosophical.  My first impression of the author’s name was he’s some kind of yoga guru though lawyer in profession and his book is very similar to Paulo Coelho’s writings.  Perhaps I just do not like reading self-help or motivation leadership kind of stuff.  My colleague said his first book ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’ was better, which I agree after reading – like a story, but after the chapter about the protagonist climbing the mountain to find the great holy sages of Sivana to attain enlightenment I stopped.  The name of the monk was called Yogi.

Despite the above unsuccessful reads, glad I finished reading ‘Neverwhere’ by Neil Gaiman, who was here few weeks ago with his girlfriend attending the Singapore Writer’s Festival.  This was enjoyable, like something out of Harry Potter & Aladdin with a lot of creative imaginations and magical adventures.  I have mailed it out to the next reader in Bookcrossing, hope she will have a fairytale Christmas reading it.  Will start on ‘The Constant Princess’ by Philippa Gregory soon but erm…. waiting for the mood 😛 

Reading…

Received some good books in the mail, and will have lots to read now.  Just started on “The Thirteenth Tale” but moving very slowly, due to work and having just taken up a new role in the workplace.   Followed by it will be Murakami’s “Norwegian Wood”, and “The Reader” by Bernhard Schlink.  Hope I will enjoy the Norwegian Wood better this time, as I didn’t finish “The Wind-up Bird Chronicle” which I find very bizarre and weird.  Would therefore like to seek understanding from whomever you are whose books are with me, I’ll try to finish as quickly as I could and not hold them up for too long.  But it’s always nice receiving books from fellow book lovers, as I find it makes reading more engaging, adventurous and fun this way.