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 😛 

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Sunday Salon: May reads

Hmm…haven’t being writing anything in Sunday Salon since the last one I posted in March.  Have definitely been reading but slow in pace – not my own books but those from other side of the world which through Bookcrossing I got to read them.  If not for all these books that I have signed up, think I could be lazy sometimes reading my own.  And though this sharing by mailing has digress a little from the original Bookcrossing theme of leaving books in the public for someone else to find, but at least the books get read and journalled instead of being “lost” somewhere out there not knowing in whose hands the books have gone to.

Anyway, back to this sad read received from a fellow bookcrosser about an air-balloon tragedy in 1897, how a group of three Swedish explorers set off to the North Pole by air and never returned, only 30 years later in bones, as some parts of their bodies were being taken as food by Polar Bears.  I’m always fascinated in reading adventure stories about people participating in dangerous expedition, and admired their courage and determination to achieve their goals against all odds.  And for those who did not succeed, but ended up in injuries and deaths, I’m also amazed that their bodies could be so well-preserved by the cold climate, and looking at their faces just couldn’t help to wonder what was in their head at that point of time facing death in such kinds of unforgiving environments.

Another more delightful read also from bookcrossing was JK Rowling’s new fantasy book ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’.  The stories are all very creative and interesting and I especially like “Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump” and “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot”.  The first I thought was quite like the muggle world fairy tale “Emperor’s New Clothes” excluding the magic.  Just wonder will all these new magical short stories be make into a film as well.

Currently I’m reading “The Bookseller of Kabul” but in a snail pace.  Nothing to do with the book, it’s interesting but though slow at least it keeps me going because it’s a bookcrossing book and knowing I have to pass it on after I’m done.  And also reading other readers’ reviews make my day.

Sunday Salon: Alias Grace & Other Good Reads

Haven’t been writing anything in the Sunday Salon for a while, but the past weeks have been good, as I have read some good books though a bit slow.  Am currently reading a psychological thriller ‘We, the Accused’ by Ernest Raymond, received from a UK bookcrosser as part of a book ring.  She highly recommended it and said couldn’t bear not to share it with other readers, so I hope our tastes in literature will cross in this book.  Have just started it today and when seeing the name Ian Holm and his photo on the cover as Paul Presset in the BBC –TV adaptation, found the name to be very familiar just couldn’t recall who he was.  Only few pages after and looking at the picture again then I realised it’s that pipe-loving and merry Bilbo Baggins from Lord of the Ring.  He looked so different wearing the suit.

Finished reading a historical fiction ‘Alias Grace’ by Margaret Atwood this morning, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Now Atwood is one of my favourite authors as I have come to like her smooth writing style.  Thanks to this book I came to know about this piece of history, and even did some internet search to know more about the case.  I was so engrossed in Atwood’s fictionalized writing until I thought what’s written was true, only to know from the Author’s Afterword that in reality some of the real facts were not known.  If you have read the book, what do you think of Grace?  Did you think she’s a good actress or her memory loss was real, and she really suffered from scizo / split personality and sleepwalking disorder and was possessed?  Or she was just a great pretender?

Also read ‘Confessions of a Yakuza’ by Junichi Saga, about the Japan Underworld before WWII.  Have wanted also to get Yakuza Moon, but no stock at Borders, was intrigued after seeing the author Shoko Tendo’s full body tattoo.  But this is also fascinating read with detailed narration of the life during those times and how the yakuza works.  If you like writings by Japanese authors, this is a good read though the Japanese names can be difficult to remember, which I had to keep referring back.

Besides the above, there are 3 more bookcrossing books TBR and passed on before going on my vacation in April.  These are

  1. Total Silence by T. J. MacGregor
  2. Last Known Victim by Erica Spindlier, and
  3. The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol.

There’s another one more coming in, so hopefully I can receive it soon.  “Sigh” so many books and so little time.

What about you?  Any books you have been reading for the past weeks which are interesting?

Actually, I didn’t know today is International Women’s Day only after reading one of the blogs in The Sunday Salon.  Anyway, I wish all women out there who face multiple challenges at home and at work grace and beauty always.

Cheers to a Happy International Women’s Day and Week ahead.

Sunday Salon: New Year 2009 Reads

Yesterday I finished reading “The Oxford Murder” by Guillermo Martinez, which was a Bookcrossing ray I joined last year.  Very enjoyable read, though I do not have the head for numbers, I definitely have learnt something about Phythagora’s theorem, and what is a monard, vesica piscis etc…  It’s a perfect crime, as what the book says, was not one that remained unsolved, but one where the wrong person was blamed.  In the end the truth was told, only after the police case was closed thinking another person was the murderer.  Interesting read, though I skipped those maths and codes analysis chapters.

Another book was “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy.  It’s about a father-and-son’s journey together on a lonely road together after an apocalyptic event.  It’s a love hate book, as some may not like the style of writing which has no mention about what really happened for them to start that journey, but it’s actually the process that intrigues me to carry on reading, and how they struggle to survive in a world no longer capable of sustaining life.  Along the way, they have to avoid running into militants and cannibals.  Once they came upon an underground cell with refugees locked there crying for help, yet they couldn’t do anything to help them.  These refugees are there waiting to be eaten.  Like one bookcrosser said it’s a dog eat dog world when the society has completely broken down.  The journey also shows the love between father and son, and in the end the father finally succumbs to the illness that has plagued him from the beginning and died leaving the boy alone to continue his own journey.  The whole book is a sad read. 

Heard that the film adaption was good, Going to watch it, and compare with the book.  Also because the father was portrayed by Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings).  This will be the 2nd movie I watched by the actor.

 

Now I’m starting on “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom.  Seems there’s also a movie on it, starring Jeannette Clift as Corrie, Julie Harris as Betsie and Arthur O’Connell as Papa Ten Boom.  Never heard of these names.  This complete and unabridged copy came all the way from Northern Canada, with a letter written in the midst of very bitter cold spell at a -28c.  I’m so glad and at the same time touched reading the letter.  Though it’s really very different from Singapore where it’s summer most of the time, I can imagine how cold it’s like.  Lately the wind here is also uncommonly strong and the air is also quite cold.  Though our hair is ruffled when outside, I still like the cool air as it means going out under the sun is still quite cooling, and we can save on our electricity bill.  And it’s comfortable snuggling in bed in this weather.

Sunday Salon: Reading Block

Have been slow in reading lately, due to work and a lot of activities going on until there’s no way in setting aside time to read.  Am trying to finish reading The Pact by Jodi Picoult and send it off to the next reader waiting in line, but keeps putting off reading only a few pages.  The pace is real slow.  It has nothing to do with the book. The subject of the book is interesting – about suicide pact between two teenagers.  I have definitely enjoyed reading it and wanting to know more about what happened next, but just couldn’t continue fast enough.

The other day I had this funny nightmare.  It’s not scary and took only 5mins or less for it to be over.  I was sleeping turning to my right hand side, and suddenly I woke in the middle of the night and found my feet unable to move. I quickly turned over and saw this shadow in the shape of a book hovering above my bed (Haha… my friends laughed at me and said I have spent too much time reading and have become crazy). Perhaps it’s really true I have spent too much time in bookcrossing related activites. Anyway, I hope I’ll soon pick up the momentum in reading, and spend my time more wisely.

I have recently bought some movies which I hope to be able to watch soon – The Amazing Grace, The Other Boleyn Girl (I had read the book), and Blood Diamond about the Sierra Leone war and child soldiers.  Was introduced to this movie by a fellow bookcrosser after reading A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beal.

Sunday Salon: Mr Paddington came to visit

 Someone very polite came knocking on our door yesterday, wearing a floppy hat and carrying a battered suitcase filled with surprises.  He’d travelled all alone from Australia. Was so happy he visited before he goes off again to his next destination we spent the day chatting about his past, where he was originally from and also about the Brown family he stayed with.  He also talked alot about his Aunt Lucy whom he writes to everywhere he goes.  Wow, what an adventurous bear he is. Friendly too.

He brought along an audio CD with 4 stories inside, read by Stephen Fry, which I listened to during bedtime. I really enjoyed it, listening to the details over and over again. The reading was very clear and I like that he could differentiate his voice to represent different characters. I especially enjoyed listening about Paddington performing some magic tricks and another one about having his pic taken by a photographer behind a black box with curtain and him giving the latter a hard stare when he asked for more pennies 😛

This is my first audio book, and find it to be very entertaining indeed. When I feel tired reading word for word in a normal book, i could close my eyes and just listened to the audio instead. I find myself liking Paddington more than the Pooh bear now.

Sunday Salon: The Grass is Singing (Doris Lessing)

Have completed 2 books this week – Man Crazy by Joyce Carol Oates, which I find the story to be a bit boring, and I also don’t like her writing style. Another one was a Lessing’s book The Grass is Singing. I really like this one, compared to her other book The Golden Notebook which is quite thick and tedious in reading.

The Grass is Singing was Doris Lessing’s first novel and brought her immediate recognition. A story of white people in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), it is both an accurate picture of Africa as is appears to the average settler and a subtle study of a doomed marriage. It’s a sad read – there’s a lot of truth about a how a person can lose herself after living so miserably in a poor living condition. Lessing’s descriptions are all very real and striking, like because of poverty, pride makes a person avoid meeting people to ask for assistance, always thinking negative thoughts of others who genuinely wanted to help; how living in a house like an oven under a corrugated iron roof for 6 years with nothing to see except farms, trees and natives in the surroundings can make a once confident girl lose her self-esteem, and become irrationally bad tempered and unreasonable etc. In this case, the protagonist treated the natives very badly. Aren’t all these universal and not just in Rhodesia? The author has painted a very real pic of the lives of people living probably during the time she spent her childhood on a large farm in Southerm Rhodesia – a time and place where the whites and the natives lived and worked together.

Though the book describes Mary Turner as a once confident person, but I find her to be very disillusioned instead, due to her own parents unhappy and poverty lives. She just wanted to live differently and forgot about her past. She didn’t know what she wanted, and thinking marriage was a way to escape, and decided on impulse to marry a man whom she had only met once just because of overhearing what her surrounding friends said behind her back.

Though the description of the surroundings and what goes inside the characters’ head slow the reading down, but overall it’s a good read. Eye-opening too.