Another reviewer wrote something that echoes my feelings with regards to the Sith, "...if the sith are so backstabbing and all about themselves, how d...moreAnother reviewer wrote something that echoes my feelings with regards to the Sith, "...if the sith are so backstabbing and all about themselves, how do they manage to exist as a group without killing off all but one or two of them?"
Not really a fan of the EU books because most of them are nothing more than glorified fan fiction. However, I am interested in the Sith and their beliefs that I caved in and bought this book. Not bad. Not particularly good but I didn't expect it to be.
A Sith vessel crash lands on a primitive planet and over two thousand years they and their descendants have made the planet theirs. Cut off from the rest of the galaxy due to a convenient plot device (crazy magnetic fields that prevents communications off world), the Sith struggle with the natives and among themselves to see who can become High Lord or something or other. There's also a downed Jedi thrown into the midst halfway through the book.
Something to read quickly on a rainy weekend. Nothing to shout about. Not as bad as some of the other Star Wars EU books so that's something in its favour.(less)
Don't need a cursory knowledge of some of the major events of the 20th century to enjoy this book but it'll help. Allan Karllson lives his life as qui...moreDon't need a cursory knowledge of some of the major events of the 20th century to enjoy this book but it'll help. Allan Karllson lives his life as quietly as possible as long as there is enough vodka to drink and food to eat. However, he tends to involve himself in things that go on to greatly affect the world. That was in his younger days. Now that he is a hundred year old man, he somehow is on the run with a suitcase full of money, a motley crew of newly found friends and some bad guys who want their money back. There is also an elephant called Sonya thrown into the mix but she doesn't do much except that one time when she accidentally sat on...nope, that would be a spoiler.
A pleasant read. A bit absurd (which I think was the whole point) and a whole of fun watching the old man living a full life without really intending to do so.(less)
I call this "the double sucker-punch" novel for the clever way it was structured. Just as we are following the story from the point of view of the ano...moreI call this "the double sucker-punch" novel for the clever way it was structured. Just as we are following the story from the point of view of the anonymous antagonist and gasps at the casual murder of his girlfriend, the book switches the point of view halfway through the book and now we see events from the murdered girl's sister. That's the first sucker-punch. Now every handsome man with blond hair whom she encounters could be the murderer. Then when we are sure the suspects have been narrowed down to two, author Ira Levin gives the reader a second sucker punch with...ah, but that would be telling.
Suffice it to say that they don't write them like this anymore. A novel worthy of the label "thriller".(less)
Star Wars? Love it. Zombies? Love them. Star Wars Expanded Universe (EU) books? Apprehensive about them. An EU book with zombies in it? Made me curiou...moreStar Wars? Love it. Zombies? Love them. Star Wars Expanded Universe (EU) books? Apprehensive about them. An EU book with zombies in it? Made me curious enough to give it a try.
My apprehensiveness regarding the EU books has been fortified with Red Harvest. How a tale about zombies in Star Wars could be boring is beyond me but it was. Like most Star Wars EU books, this one is just glorified fan fiction. Would have given it at least two stars if it was available for free.(less)
Here’s what I love about Ted Naifeh’s book. It’s basically a story with a familiar...more**spoiler alert** This review is from my blog: The Malaysian Reader:
Here’s what I love about Ted Naifeh’s book. It’s basically a story with a familiar theme: a young girl moves to a new place and a new school and has to make new friends. Except there are strange goings on in her new place (her granduncle Aloysius spooky old house to be precise) and there are even stranger things in the woods of her new neigbourhood.
But those aren’t what I love about this book. They are great and familiar tropes but what hooked me in was the dark route the author chose to take. There are at least three instances in this collection that would make the unreasonable parent throw this book in disgust and petition the local and school library to ban it from their shelves. Without spoiling it too much, two kids get eaten by a night creature (one of them was bullying the other so it was a comeuppance, but still…) and a baby is exchanged with a goblin and the baby sold at the Dark Market in Goblin Town. Well here’s the thing, these disappearances were not resolved in favour of the humans at all. The goblin gets to stay in the crib pretending to be a human baby at the story’s end (Courtney is told that human babies are kidnapped and sold to strange creatures all the time and besides in this case the baby’s mother wouldn’t know the difference anyway) and it was only mentioned in passing that the bullied kid would be missed by no one. No mention at all of what the neigbours thought of the missing bully.
Well, I guess I did go and spoil it after all. Here’s one more: the only reason the night creatures visited the bully was because they were told to by Courtney herself. So this is a story about a kid who ordered a hit on her tormentor. Now you see why I love this book. It tickles my dark soul and pushes all the right buttons in me. If you’re still shocked, let me assure you that all the violence and auctioning of a baby happens ‘off-panel’.
Courtney soon discovers her weird granduncle is actually very nice but he does have a secret which he eventually shares with Courtney. This first volume is a collection of four previously published graphic novels in which were in paperback and black and white. This time around the adventures of Courtney Crumrin is bound in hardcover and in colour and if you are just as weird as me you should get this book and share with your little siblings or children. They’ll thank you for it.(less)
Old West with a supernatural motif. Six guns with evil, evil magical powers, five of which are already owned by the Bad Guys and they're looking for t...moreOld West with a supernatural motif. Six guns with evil, evil magical powers, five of which are already owned by the Bad Guys and they're looking for the sixth, most powerful gun.
Volume 1 collects the first six issues and writer Bunn throws the reader straight into the deep end with nary a pause to catch our breath. All the shoot outs with the undead and psychopathic villains hide the fact that there isn't much characterization within the pages. Everyone seems one dimensional. Maybe it'll be tackled in the second volume?
Still, it's enjoyable enough to make me curious for Volume 2.(less)
Celebrity memoirs can be such a chore to read sometimes. They tend to be ghostwritten and have nothing really interesting to say. Simon Pegg's memoir...moreCelebrity memoirs can be such a chore to read sometimes. They tend to be ghostwritten and have nothing really interesting to say. Simon Pegg's memoir was thankfully written by him and has some interesting things to say although he confesses that a large part of his private life will remain private.
I knew of Pegg when I caught his sitcom Spaced on British television almost twenty years ago and absolutely loved it. His snarky humour and love of '80s pop culture especially Star Wars that was in abundant in Spaced are also littered on every page in his book. Which is nice because take away those elements and there's nothing much in the book. His private life, as mentioned above, is only given a glimpse and even his career as a stand up comic and actor is merely glossed over with lots of name dropping and fanboy worshipping of directors he admires.
Good thing I'm a fan or I would not have bothered finishing this book.(less)
Dark, witty humour. Ethelred Tressider is an author who writes under three different pseudonyms but receives no respect from no one, not even from his...moreDark, witty humour. Ethelred Tressider is an author who writes under three different pseudonyms but receives no respect from no one, not even from his agent. In fact, not even from himself. The mystery of his murdered ex-wife uses points of view to cloak itself in but it's not too hard to figure out if the reader paid attention. The ending however was a surprise and not necessarily a pleasant one, depending on one's point of view.
Only two reasons why I even bothered with this book. Firstly, I'm sort of a fan of the show. I like history and some of the items that are featured ar...moreOnly two reasons why I even bothered with this book. Firstly, I'm sort of a fan of the show. I like history and some of the items that are featured are very interesting. Second, the book was like 60% off at Amazon. Can't resist a bargain.
The book is surprisingly good. Just like the show, it has a bit of humour and Rick is a natural storyteller. It's not difficult to tell stories I suppose when a lot of zany characters walk through your door looking for some quick cash. In fact, from what Rick tells us the show is a sanitized version of a typical day at the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. Practically ignored while he was growing up because his parents were too busy working, Rick Harrison feared as a child that he would never see adulthood because of his seizures that would relegate him to the bed for days. This was where he would spend his days reading any books he could get his hands on and he credits those days as his real education. He also has a natural gift for numbers. So the bald overweight guy with the smoker's laugh isn't actually a dumbass.
His employee Chumlee though isn't as book smart and looks it while his son Big Hoss is smart but doesn't look the part. They both get to tell their stories (they were meth addicts in their teens and cleaned up their lives while their other meth buddied didn't). Rick's dad The Old Man also pitched in nut it's Rick's book so he gets most of the pages.
The most interesting part of the book for me was when he describes some of the characters he has encountered in the twenty years he's been working in the pawn shop. There's the billionaire who browses in his shop without buying anything ever but everytime he comes in, there's a new girl by his side. There's the Asian lady who looked like a bag lady but took out a roll of hundred dollar bills from her sock to make a purchase. The family who live their lives as professional gamblers and visit the Gold & Silver whenever they need cash for the casinos and the thieves and conmen who sometimes get away with their scams and causes Rick to lose thousands of dollars.
It is a well written book. A Tim Keown is credited as author with Rick Harrison and I'm guessing he's the ghost writer. I usually avoid ghost written memoirs but Rick's voice comes out loud enough in this book that I believe that Rick actually did the writing while Mr. Keown merely polished the rough manuscript.
A surprisingly deep book about a hustler with a heart.(less)
I found it so disappointing. Kurlansky merely lists what the different civilisations discovered and did with salt (the Chinese, the Celts, Romans, Pho...moreI found it so disappointing. Kurlansky merely lists what the different civilisations discovered and did with salt (the Chinese, the Celts, Romans, Phoenicians, etc.) As other reviewers have noted, these stories are not woven together to form some sort of tapestry but were written as stand-alone stories involving salt.
The inclusion of ancient recipes involving salt was interesting but I wasn't looking for a recipe book.(less)
Travel memoirs are especially difficult to sell, more so than just a regular mem...moreThis review first appeared in my blog, The Malaysian Reader. Excerpts:
Travel memoirs are especially difficult to sell, more so than just a regular memoir. It needs a hook to capture one’s interest. If you’re a Hollywood celebrity or an explorer then the battle to grab attention is half won already. If your travel memoir has a specific agenda then that helps as well (for example, Nisah Haron’s Kembara Sastera Nisah Haron : United Kingdom & Dublin). Also helps if you’re an established author. But if you’re relatively unknown in the publishing world and you self-publish your adventures gallivanting across Europe, then the challenge to get noticed is just that tad more difficult. Izni Zahidi knows all about those challenges.
In her blog, she lists the frustrations she had to go through to get her book published before deciding to just publish the darn book herself (a quote from her blog post: “One [publisher] even told me that I can publish the book when I become famous”). Good thing she lives in an age when vanity publishing has been made so much easier and accessible. But is her book any good?
The 265-page book tells of her journey across Europe as a newlywed, living in four different countries within two years. Izni Zahidi had always wanted to travel abroad and if it wasn’t for the many obstacles she had to face she would have. Her opportunity came when she was offered a spot in a water resources management programme which enabled her to stay in France, Britain, Denmark, Hungary and take occasional sightseeing trips to locations nearby, including Egypt (which qualifies as ‘nearby’ when you’re in Europe, I suppose). Izni chronicles her two year journey abroad with infectious glee. Travelling abroad for the first time, she observes the people she meets and the places she visits with childlike innocence and wonder and if you’ve never been to Europe before you would probably share her wide eyed curiosity as well.
But if you have been to Europe, then The Longest Honeymoon brings nothing new to the table. There’s always the matter of the elusive ‘hook’. I can see why that one publisher facetiously asked Izni to wait until she was famous before offering them the opportunity to publish her manuscript. Outside of her friends and family, I would be hard pressed to think of anyone who would be interested to read it. The Longest Honeymoon is not a badly written travel memoir. Far from it. It is interesting, honest and occasionally amusing but it is a travel memoir of (let’s face it) an unknown Malaysian and it is difficult to ask anyone to fork out RM30 (or USD$12.89 at Amazon) in order to read a newlywed Malaysian woman experiences living and studying in Europe. It needs a hook. Where is the damn blasted hook to capture the potential reader’s interest? There’s always the ‘legal alien living abroad’ angle but other than that there’s nothing. Her travels, while exciting for her, was not entirely unique. Many Malaysians, married or single, man or woman, have been to Europe. It is not terra incognita for us. It is also unfortunate that Ms. Izni forgot to include any photos within the book. Not that it’s a requirement but seeing as how it’s a travel memoir it would have been nice to see some photos of her travels.(less)
Some good ones (the homage to HP Lovecraft and the 'Salem's Lot 'sequel' are favourites) but overall this particular collection of short stories by Ki...moreSome good ones (the homage to HP Lovecraft and the 'Salem's Lot 'sequel' are favourites) but overall this particular collection of short stories by King which were written before he made it big are just adequate. (less)
A handful of British pensioners move to a newly established retirement home...in India.
The first three quarters of the book was fine but the final ch...moreA handful of British pensioners move to a newly established retirement home...in India.
The first three quarters of the book was fine but the final chapters felt rushed. Observing the independently-minded pensioners as they resettle in Bangalore was a joy and their complaints about their lives and children (or lack thereof) were sad but everything was resolved 'toot suite' as if the author ran out of pages.
Only got to know this book because I saw Judy Dench promoting the movie adaptation on Charlie Rose and me being a very strange person sought out the edition of the book with its original title on the cover and even its original cover art (the latest edition has the movie poster as its cover and the title has been changed to the movie version, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel).
A nice book but nothing special. Maybe the movie adaptation is better? (less)
Exquisite. A children's book that can be appreciated by (perhaps even more) by an adult. Mr. Lessmore loses everything after a hurricane blows away hi...moreExquisite. A children's book that can be appreciated by (perhaps even more) by an adult. Mr. Lessmore loses everything after a hurricane blows away his home and books. He finds solace at an empty library and he finds a new lease of life taking care of the orphaned books. Until it is time for him to leave.
It is about hope, love, loss and life. It's also about reading and the joy it brings. (less)
Yasmin Ahmad died in 2009. She was a copywriter who later became well known...moreThe excerpted review below first appeared in my blog: The Malaysian Reader
Yasmin Ahmad died in 2009. She was a copywriter who later became well known for her annual Merdeka television ads for Petronas and later became even more famous for her movies. I’m not a fan and I knew of her more from the controversy of at least two of her movies than from watching the movies themselves. One, Muallaf, was even banned from screening in Malaysia if I’m not mistaken. (EDIT: Okay, I was mistaken. Muallaf was never banned. But she was seen by some as ‘controversial’ because she made movies that did not feature mat rempits).
She was loved by her friends and fans because of her pluralistic and liberal outlook in a nation that only pays lip service to such ideas and this book is a collection of memoirs of that liberal woman from the people who knew her best. “Yasmin How You Know?” (saying “How you know” in a staccato manner was her habit apparently) is hilarious, touching and even made me who was ambivalent towards her work miss her deeply.
The design of the book is unique. Slip it out of its envelope and it looks like a notepad one would have on one’s writing desk. The back of the book says that “this book is not damaged. It is intentionally designed with the “yet-to-be-perfected” look. Read it, and you’ll understand why. God willing.”
A well timed book this, what with the General Elections looming and for the first time...moreThe review below first appeared in my blog, The Malaysian Reader
A well timed book this, what with the General Elections looming and for the first time in Malaysia’s history there is a distinct possibility that the Opposition could win the mandate of the people. Should that happen, Zaid Ibrahim asks, what will the ramifications be if “long-running tensions between the monarchy and the political establishment are not resolved”?
As anachronistic as the idea of a monarchy in a democratic country may be, Zaid Ibrahim argues that the Malay monarchs do have a role to play in Malaysia. And there lies the problem: there seems to be two different interpretations of the role of the Malay Rulers. Some of them see themselves as something close to an absolute monarch (Zaid cites the Sultan of Perak’s refusal to grant the then Chief Minister of Perak, Nizar Jamaluddin to dissolve the State Assembly in 2008 and instead asked Nizar to step down) while another interpretation and a more popular one because you know, it’s in the law books, is that the Malay royals are bound by the Constitution on what they can or cannot do. The Malay Rulers may have special privileges and rights that are not enjoyed by the rest of the nation but they must still live within those rights. It is when they are seen to be overstepping those rights that people start grumbling.
As the subtitle of the book suggests, Malaysia needs to be governed according to the Constitution in which the Palace has a part to play but there has to be a clear distinction between the Palace and His Majesty’s Government. The Rulers’ insistence in involving themselves in business and local politics is one reason Malaysian politics is in such a mess right now. The gist of Ampun Tuanku is not so much a criticism of the present conduct of the Malay rulers but rather a clarion call for common sense.(less)
This is one title of King's that seem to divide his fans in the middle, between those who loved it and those who hated it. I'm of the former. King's s...moreThis is one title of King's that seem to divide his fans in the middle, between those who loved it and those who hated it. I'm of the former. King's strength, as I've stated before in other reviews of his book, lies in his ability to weave a tale that would make the reader be interested in his protagonists (and in this case, some of his antagonists as well). The Stand isn't about the man-made plague that destroys most of Earth's population but it's about how the survivors cope with the aftermath. Some join the Good Guys while others quite willingly embrace the Dark Side. The horrors aren't many in this book. Oh they exist, make no mistake but if you expect a scary "BOO!" scene every chapter you would be sorely disappointed. King throws his characters into the deep end so to speak and force them to swim or sink in a world that goes from normal to utter chaos within a week in summer. People with quiet lives, jerks with sycophantic friends, psychos on a killing spree, all find themselves in an unfamiliar situation without any authorities to guide, lead or admonish them. And then every time the survivors go to sleep they are beset by dreams about an old woman and a tall dark man. Each calling the survivors to come join them.
I read the expanded, Director's Cut version that comes in around 1300+ pages and while real-world responsibilities often interrupted my reading (which is why it took me more than a month to finish it), I never lost interest in the story. That's testament to King's writing. There were some parts where I seemed to skim...it was when the Good Guys started forming a committee and did nothing but talk...but that was probably my personal loathing of committee based decision making. Does that mean if events in The Stand came true I would be one of those who would join the Dark Man? After all, he didn't bother with meetings and elections. He just got the electricity running again and the schools opened. Although he brought back crucifixion as a deterrent to breaking his law. A bit harsh I thought. But then again, it was a harsh post-apocalyptic world.
Oh God, I am leaning towards the Dark Side!!
(Post-script: like some of King's novels this one is all about the journey and not so much about the destination. By that I mean the climactic scene where the bad guy gets his comeuppance is a bit anti-climactic. A literal dues ex machina. I think Stephen King just said, "Aw, to hell with it. Just end this book!")(less)
Third book in The Crogan Adventures. Two brothers end up on opposite sides of the American War of Independence but to Schweizer's credit he doesn't fo...moreThird book in The Crogan Adventures. Two brothers end up on opposite sides of the American War of Independence but to Schweizer's credit he doesn't force his readers to choose a side. Both brothers did what they thought was right and when their lives were at stake they proved the old adage "blood is thicker than water" true.
Just as Noor Suraya wanted to introduce Hang Tuah’s story in a manner that would interes...more(This review is an excerpt from my blog: The Malaysian Reader)
Just as Noor Suraya wanted to introduce Hang Tuah’s story in a manner that would interest younger readers (see here), Hikayat is the result of ninotaziz’s wish to preserve and introduce classical Malay epics to today’s generation. Unlike Noor Suraya’s adaptation which is in Malay, the tales in Hikayat have been translated into English which from a marketing standpoint is just plain smart. Author Nisah Haron in her review of this book opined that telling these mostly pre-Islamic Malay epics in English means that today’s young Malaysian bookworm who is probably already more exposed to English books than Malay ones would be more willing to pick up Hikayat. If that is the best way to let them know about the rich literary heritage of Malaysia then I’m all for it.
All the stories collected in this book are the abridged versions, naturally. At only 276 pages, Hikayat is way to slim to include all the epics in their complete form. Nevertheless the book acts as a wonderful primer and a treasure trove of stories that risk extinction through lack of interest, read only by stuffy academics in stuffy halls of academia. Ninotaziz wants these stories to be enjoyed by the people as they were originally intended. Let’s hope her efforts will be rewarded.(less)
I first read this in March, put it down halfway through (should have taken that as a sign), came back to it in June. 'Meh' is such a cop-out one-word...moreI first read this in March, put it down halfway through (should have taken that as a sign), came back to it in June. 'Meh' is such a cop-out one-word review but I think it is very appropriate for this book. Creepy premise (writer haunted by supernatural evil twin) but the execution was just poor, making me feel as if I was reading something written by a fledgling author and not one by a master of the genre. The denouement is typical King: lots and lots of build-up only to be followed by something very anticlimactic (if you've read the book you know what I mean and if you haven't, lucky you!)
I have been complaining that there aren't any serious effort...moreReviu ni diambil (setelah disunting dan dipendekkan) dari blog saya, The Malaysian Reader:
I have been complaining that there aren't any serious efforts to introduce Malay legends to Malay and Malaysian kids through books targeted for that particular age group. Well, Noor Suraya (she wrote Jaja & Din among other novels) has done just that. She has taken the monumental challenge of presenting the controversial and arguably Malaysia’s most well known classical story, Hikayat Hang Tuah (The Epic of Hang Tuah) in a format suitable for younger readers.
Telling the Hang Tuah story for the kids isn’t new but this time it caught my attention for one simple reason: the book is a thick hardcover. Yes, that’s a big deal for some of us. A hardcover book gives an aura of professionalism and it gives the perception that the publisher made an effort to present this book in the best possible way. In Malaysia this is usually reserved for ‘serious’ books and certainly not a book for children. It shows that publisher JS Adiwarna respected the stories and realised the status those stories have in the Malay psyche when they agreed to bound this version of Hikayat Hang Tuah between two hardcovers and for that they deserve some respect in return.
Although this edition is aimed at younger readers, it could also be of interest to the grown up whose knowledge of the Hang Tuah legend is limited to P. Ramlee’s movie adaptation. Reading the grown up version (the one edited by Kassim Ahmad, see photo below) is recommended but if you can’t be bothered then Noor Suraya’s version isn’t too shabby either. The language used may be modern but it does not patronise its reader.
An excellent effort to introduce Malay classical epics to a new generation.
I didn't really finish this book because I gave up somewhere on page 200-something. My time is too precious to be reading books that do not catch my i...moreI didn't really finish this book because I gave up somewhere on page 200-something. My time is too precious to be reading books that do not catch my interest.
Intrigued by the promise of characters with grey areas to their personalities (shades of GRR Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series which I enjoyed), I found all of the main characters to be one-dimensional cardboard cut-outs and just could not bring myself to care enough to follow their stories. And when I didn't care about them that meant I also didn't care about the impending crisis that threatens their world.
What touches me most while reading this book is how the former Presidents would assist the man occupying the office at the time regardless of their po...moreWhat touches me most while reading this book is how the former Presidents would assist the man occupying the office at the time regardless of their political leanings. Hoover the Republican helped Truman the Democrat just as Ike advised Kennedy and Clinton became Obama's envoy (okay, they're are on the same side politically but Clinton didn't like Obama taking away the Presidency from his wife Hillary).
It is touching to a Malaysian because I simply do not see that happening in this country. Malaysia has never had a Prime Minister from a different party yet (I'm writing this in mid-2012 when that possibility might just happen) but we have had changes at the State level and Hell would freeze over before an outgoing Chief Minister would advice the incoming one on how to govern the state just because they're from rival parties. Immature, much?
It's not all chummy of course. Nixon and LBJ literally played with lives, both American and Vietnamese, just to one-up the other in the name of power and Ford didn't like Reagan much at first. But overall the former Presidents are more than willing to safeguard their fellow 'frat brother' and guide him through the labyrinthine corridors of power because they've been there and know the tough decisions the President has to make.
Except for Nixon. He just wanted to be loved after Watergate.(less)
When I discovered that Amir Muhammad was going to republish the novelisation of P....morePart of this review first appeared in my blog, The Malaysian Reader:
When I discovered that Amir Muhammad was going to republish the novelisation of P. Ramlee’s ‘lost’ film, I squealed like a teenage girl at a Justin Bieber concert. I have absolutely no idea what Sitora Harimau Jadian (Sitora the Weretiger) was about. Oh, the title made it obvious enough what it was about but I didn’t know how the story played out.
Therefore it is understandable why Sitora‘s novelisation, which itself had fallen into obscurity, was able to elicit such excitement from me. If the film itself is gone for good then reading about it would be the next best thing. And indeed it was. Without the reportedly cheap visual effects to prejudice one’s feelings about it, the prose version of Sitora proved to be a not-so-bad stab by P. Ramlee at the horror genre.
The lack of audiovisuals would also help the reader appreciate the social commentary of Sitora and it’s not a P. Ramlee movie if it didn’t have any social commentaries, right? Also that particular style of language that was common in the films of the era and which I personally find amusing because I’m weird appears in the book verbatim. That’s not a complain. On the contrary, after reading the other FIXI novels it is refreshing to be reading flowery-theatrical-who-speaks-like-that-in-real-life Malay once again.
I confess my 4-star rating for this book was influenced more by my appreciation of anything P. Ramlee and the serendipity of finally having able to read, if not watch, Sitora Harimau Jadian than by the quality of the story itself. Maybe a 3 for the story, plus 1 star for the historical value of a lost, allegedly bad, classic.(less)
Very well written and with lots of twists and turns in what is essentially a 'rescue a kidnapped damsel' storyline. The world of Mosca Mye has been co...moreVery well written and with lots of twists and turns in what is essentially a 'rescue a kidnapped damsel' storyline. The world of Mosca Mye has been compared to Pratchett's Discworld and that's no bad thing. Both have created worlds that resemble pre-Industrial Revolution Britain and both authors have a way with words (although Pratchett leans more towards irreverent humour and puns).
This is the first time I've read anything by this author and though Twilight Robbery (called Fly Trap in the US) is the second book featuring Eponymous Clent, Mosca Mye and her crazed goose, it is a stand alone sequel that does not force the reader to read the first book.
Though at almost 600 pages I confess I almost lost patience somewhere in the middle when I felt the plot was going nowehere fast. I said 'almost' because Ms. Hardinge's deft way with words and well rounded characters (especially Eponympus and Mosca) helped temper my impatience somewhat.
I'll be on the lookout for more of this author's works from now on. (less)
(Disclosure: The author of this book is an online friend and there is a paragraph...moreReviu di bawah ini mula disiarkan di blog saya, The Malaysian Reader
(Disclosure: The author of this book is an online friend and there is a paragraph within the book that alludes to me, though anonymously. Therefore claims of bias might be raised but are unfounded, I assure you)
If you are not familiar with Nisah Haron, she is an author with several novels and at least one children’s book to her credit. She also maintains a blog and it was in this blog that she first chronicled her travels to the UK and the city of Dublin, Ireland. Kembara Sastera (A Literary Travel) is a collection of those blog posts.
So yes, it is a blook. Ugh, I hate that word but it is a book derived from a weblog so it’s an accurate description. Why then should anyone bother to pay when it’s free online? Well for one thing, if you’re like me (and that would be awesome!) you would always prefer to have a hard copy in hand rather than reading from a screen no matter how convenient it may be. And as I have mentioned above, Nisah Haron is an established author so she can write. No ghostwriters needed here. It’s all her.
Travel books usually have a theme. Trekking cross-country on a bike, for example, or in search for the best street food in the world. Nisah Haron also had a specific aim in her travels and that is to discover the rich literary culture of the British and the Irish and the contributions they have made to world literature. All that in just under two weeks (she was on a budget). Beginning at Birmingham, she works her way north to Manchester, the Lake District, Edinburgh, across the Irish Sea to Dublin, London and back to Birmingham before flying back home. In between all that, she squeezes in visits to Stratford-upon-Avon and the bookworm paradise better known as the Hay Festival at Hay-on-Wye. True to her objective, Nisah Haron makes an effort to visit anything connected to books and the arts at every stop she makes. Don’t expect her to gush about the incredible shops selling incredible wares because this book has none of that. Unless its books. Then yeah, it has plenty of gushing over books and bookshops in Kembara Sastera.
The Hay Festival? Gush.
The James Joyce Center? Gush.
The Writer’s Museum, Edinburgh? Gush.
The Cambridge University Press? Gush.
Charing Cross Road, London? What do you think?
Kembara Sastera is also packed with photos of the places Nisah Haron visited (basically the same ones in her blog) which sure helps the reader appreciate the chronicles of her travels even more, and the photos are not just in the middle of the book like you’ll find in most books but just about on every page and in colour as well. Visual aids! Yay!
This book is simply a treasure for the Malaysian bookworm. Never before have I read a travel book in Malay that focuses solely on a particular nation’s literary treasures. Her travels also showed her and us the care and thought given by the Brits and the Irish to their authors and the ideas they brought forth. Over there men and women of letters are respected and honoured almost to the point of worship. Their homes are preserved, statues are erected in their honour, there are museums dedicated solely to authors and of course their books are kept in print even if demand is low and the author long dead. We Malaysians clearly have a long way to go.
Can’t afford to visit the book lover’s paradise that is the United Kingdom? Reading Kembara Sastera is the next best thing. And if you can afford to visit the UK, the book can act as a travel guide.
Here’s hoping there’ll be more travel books like Kembara Sastera in the near future either from Nisah Haron or others because there’s nothing a voracious reader likes more than to read a book about books. To us, it’s like porn but without the shame and guilt.(less)
This would have made an amusing short story but fails as a full length novel because it's nothing more than a one-joke book. I love parodies and absur...moreThis would have made an amusing short story but fails as a full length novel because it's nothing more than a one-joke book. I love parodies and absurdity for its own sake but Pride and Prejudice and Zombies just didn't do anything for me. Even the ninjas didn't help and I love ninjas in my Georgian-era novels.
The problem not only lies in the "Oh my God, zombies you all!" joke but the book just feels like a Pride and Prejudice book with added scenes. Perhaps someone not familiar at all with Austen's novel might not be affected by it but those who are familiar with the source material would see this parody as a lazy way to write a book. It doesn't help when Seth Grahame-Smith is clearly less talented as a writer than Jane Austen was. The differences in prose style is jarring. (less)
Argues that America's current obsession with ghosts reality shows and the supernatural in general stems in part from America's ongoing war with a shad...moreArgues that America's current obsession with ghosts reality shows and the supernatural in general stems in part from America's ongoing war with a shadowy enemy. Much as extraterrestrial aliens were popular when Russia was Enemy no. 1, ghost hunting shows are going through a rejuvenation due to the post 9/11 world order where demons and spirits are convenient stand-ins for Americans to make sense of their world today.
Or something like that. I confess I glossed over the post-modern analysis of why Americans are obsessed with ghosts and paid more attention to the evolution of paranormal investigators in the USA, one of which became popular worldwide when they were featured in their own TV show Ghost Hunters which subsequently opened the floodgates.
The author, a Muslim who takes an active interest in ghost hunting, believes that the interest in parapsychology and ghost reality shows would eventually make the study of the supernatural gain legitimacy within mainstream science.(less)
Morrison doing what he does best: going all meta on us. A meditation on (superhero) comic books and its status in the public's mind today.
Loaded with...moreMorrison doing what he does best: going all meta on us. A meditation on (superhero) comic books and its status in the public's mind today.
Loaded with metaphor and stuff, it begins with Flex Mentallo literally flexing his muscles to handle a situation...and then the story just goes into a metaphysical left-turn and ventures into questions of the creator and his creation, about imagination and reality and all that.
Frank Quitely's artwork as usual is gorgeous so that helped me read the book all the way through even though I didn't really get it. It's like Watchmen on acid.(less)