Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Back in Action

If you have reviews of interesting books or if there are any kind of book events, do drop me an email.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fun Times at Plaza Singapura Atrium (1 - 7 Sept 08)

Book swapping up your alley? Click here for more information!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A Note from the Webmaster of DebbiesIdea.com

Do hop over for a look!

"The site serves as a forum for users to discuss which book to read first of an unfamiliar author. The idea is to head off reading mishaps that may turn a reader off to a great writer. For example, a reader who starts reading Trollope with "The Eustace Diamonds" or "The Way We Live Now" may well go on to read dozens more of his books, but one with the bad luck to happen to read his forgettable "Lady Anna" first would probably never read him again. Ditto the poor soul who embarks on Iris Murdoch with "Jackson's Dilemma" -- written not in her prime but when she was on her way into dementia -- rather than getting to know her through "The Good Apprentice," "The Sea, The Sea," or one of her many other superb novels.

The idea for the site came from the late Debbie Sankey, a lifelong reader who realized that starting with the wrong book might turn a reader off to a writer forever. Since it's almost always a matter of opinion, a collaborative website makes a great forum for discussion and debate. DebbiesIdea.com was created by a friend as a memorial to Debbie. Registration on the site is free for all users."

- Sam Maher

Monday, May 28, 2007

World Book Fair

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Leadership & Self-Deception-Getting Out of the Box

Leadership & Self-Deception-Getting Out of the Box
by The Arbinger Institute
Reviewed by Fiona from The Advocate Group

I would like to share with you a book that I recently completed. It is called Leadership & Self-Deception - Getting Out of the Box by The Arbinger Institute. The way this group of people use concepts to explain our disgusting human tendency is simply amazing. If you read on, self-betrayal happens to every one of us. The fact that we sometimes do not honour our first sense makes us go into this mode of self-deception.

It may sound abstract to you initially like how it sounded to me when I first heard about this term "self-deception". If we had the urge or first sense to do something that we think would be helpful to the other, why do we not do it? Worse, we find means and ways to justify our selfish behaviour. When we are deeply trapped in the box, we feel the fury and anger dwelling in us. This goes to say, are we merely creating our own problems to frustrate ourselves?

We should stop and think twice about the power of this book. The teachings have greatly impacted my work life and family relations. All I can say is, it is amazing how theories can be used to explain my irrational behaviour, which I had always thought as rational when doing it.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Contributions from a reader

Reviewed by J. G. Renaldy Chandra

by Patrick Suskind

Born in 18th century France, Grenouille had the finest nose in the world. But he had no personal body odour. His nose was so fine that he can untangle the scent of Paris.

Once, when he was watching a fireworks show in the streets, he smelled a scent. A scent that was more beautiful than any other scent, more alluring than the finest perfume. He followed the scent to its source. Then he found that the source was a girl. He killed the girl and took away her scent, sniffing her whole body until her scent was his.

Later on in his life, he learnt how to make perfumes, how to extract scents from things. And suddenly, he had an idea, to create the greatest perfume in the world.

A perfume so great that the whole world will kneel under the user.

The novel is actually already made into a film which will be released around March maybe. It's a great book, even though I found the story a bit deranged, but really worth reading.This is one of the most exciting books I have ever read.

Suite Francaise
by Irene Nemirovsky

I have to say that for me, this book is one of the greatest books I have ever read. This book was translated from French to English.

The book itself was intended to be a 5-part "symphony" by the writer. She wrote it around 1941, when the Germans occupied France. There are only 2 parts of this book finished while the 3 others left unfinished. It was because the writer was captured and killed (or died from disease, I'm not sure) by the Nazis. It was said that this, what was supposed to be a 5-part novella, was inspired by Beethoven's 5th symphony. This book was never discovered until 64 years after the author died. It was written in a notebook which her daughter kept. She never read it because she thought it would be too hurtful. But when she decided to donate the book to a museum, she finally brought herself to read it, and inside she found one of the greatest literary treasures.

The first part of the book was called A Storm in June. It tells a story of groups of people fleeing Paris because of the invasions. It paints a vivid image in your mind of what was happening then, and combined with a cast of wonderful characters, it created such a great book.

The second part is called Dolce. This one tells you a story about after the invasion and life in a village under Germany's occupation, how enemies lived side by side, and how the Germans (enemies) were portrayed as human beings no different from all of us.

In the Book there are also 2 appendixes. The first one contains the author's notes on the rest of the books and the situation of France back then. The appendix contains much of her plan, the plot and the character she was going to use. The second appendix is a collection of letters by the author and other letters by her husband and friends. It shows how hard they tried to save the author, yet failed.

It really pains me that Suite Francaise is not finished. If it was to be finished, for me, it will be the equivalent of Beethoven's The 5th symphony.

The Girl with a Pearl Earring
by Tracy Chevalier
(Editor's link to author's site here)

I have read your blog, and found out that you've read Tracy Chevalier's work, the one called The Lady and the Unicorn. I've read all of her works, and to tell the truth, this book is my favorite.

It tells a story about old Holland (I can't remember the year), and about the life of Griet, a young woman wired to be a maid in the house of the famous painter Johannes Vermeer. Then the story revolves about her life at the house, how Vermeer later asked her to be his personal helper without anyone else knowing. And later, he painted her, creating the famous painting "Girl with a Pearl Earring".

The book is filled with Griet's internal conflicts, and the author actually manages to paint such a vivid picture of what was happening.

The book has been made into a film, starring Scarlet Johanssen and Colin Firth. It won a few Oscars in 2004.

by Jose Saramago

This is a disturbing story about Blindness. How would you feel if, one second you were waiting for the green light on the road, then suddenly everything went white. White, not black. This new blindness, called the white blindness, spreads like a horrible contagious desease. And soon everyone becomes blind except for one person. An eye doctor's wife.

In this book, you will be taken into an imaginary world, seeing chaos through the eyes of a simple doctor's wife. Seeing all the horrible things happening. Seeing Blindness.

This is a very intriguing book. It is disturbing, yet it keeps you reading until the last page. It is truly a great book.

The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak

This one is about a girl who lived in the era of the Nazis. After being separated from her family and later adopted into a new family, she quickly adapted to live in her new place. She found comfort and shelter in words printed in books. Later, a Jew came to her house asking for help to hide him somewhere in the house. The father accepted him. And so began a strange relationship between a Jew and a little girl.

This book is really really good. And the unique thing is that most of the story was told by Death. This book teaches us about the power of words and that we are all nothing without words.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Antarctica on a Plate

Antarctica on a Plate - Misadventures of a Polar Chef
By Alexa Thomson

Reviewed by Claudine

Imagine this. You have never been to Antarctica or anywhere extreme for that matter.
You work as a web designer for an investment bank, lead a high life and have anything you want materially.
But you are languishing in discontent, sick of your current lifestyle and of being single and desperately want a change in circumstances.
Would you throw away your job, take on the unknown perils of Antarctica and hack out a life there as a chef for 3 months?

Well, according to Alexa, yes.

That was precisely what she did. She wangled her way through the interview to land a job as a chef on the one of the most inhospitable continents on earth. Madness, some may say. But this is why the book is truly enjoyable. You laugh at her amateurish ways in handling everything, aka wide-eyed teenager fashion, from firing up the stoves (literally, with flames licking the top of the cooking tent), hedging her way out of sticky situations (just act cool and pretend that you think you know what to do), to singlehandedly defrosting and serving up delectable meals, using only basic kitchen amenities, for sometimes more than 70 people at a time with huge amounts of food and ingredients stored in an ice cave (what a freezer!).

But you also marvel at her ingenuity and ability to cope with the harsh and nightmarish conditions there. Somehow, she managed to find fun there, built a deep camaraderie with other people through countless card and table games, zoomed over the surface of Antarctica in a skidoo and jumped (Alexa and her colleague, Lisa, actually screeched ‘Yee-haaaa!’) at the offer of a sauna bath on a Russian base there. You cannot help but savour the delight of the sauna bath along with her after realizing she had gone without a hot bath for a month or two. The experience living there is really out of this world and it is not something many amateurs would dare to take on but she did. She brought out the awe and beauty of Antarctica and we learn to respect the great continent and that we are but mere specks existing on its huge surface and we live according to its rules and timing, whether we like it or not. And of all the most unlikely places, Alexa found love.

This is a truly a travel book with a difference.