Monthly Archives: May 2009

Mailbox Monday This Week

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I received Mr. Fooster Traveling on a Whim from debnance at readerbuzz as a prize to join her Bookcrossing mini-challenge at Dewey’s read-a-thon. Written by Tom Corwin, illustrated by Craig Frazier. It’s a Visual Novel as written on the cover. I was torn between Metamorphosis by Kafka or this. I thought this looked more quirky and rare, so I picked this one. I can probably get Kafka’s anywhere :).

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I bought Gone with the Wind from Basement Books for $2.95 (new). How could I resist?! I’ve never read or watched it, so I’m excited to start! They had a big pile of the books with a big paper with quote above them: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”. LOL.

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I bought Madwoman on the Bridge by Su Tong for $1. One dollar! New! It could be rubbish, I thought, but the cover was pretty attractive, the title was interesting, and the author was quite famous in China (I also have another book by him: Binu and the Great Wall), so I gave in and grabbed it. It’s collection of short stories.

So those are books that came into my house this week. How about you? Have you read any of those above? I expect a lot of you have read Gone with the Wind.

Go here to see everyone’s Mailbox Monday posts this week.

Sunday Salon: State of the Week

The Sunday Salon.com

I spent two days of my weekend watching Lost season 2 and Heroes season 2 on DVDs. Gosh somebody stop me! These two shows are pure geniuses. Honestly.

Book-wise, I’m reading three books right this week. I kinda paused to read Burnt Shadows to read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. For someone from a society who’s quite obsessed about IQ and accomplishment (aren’t they all?), it is totally an awesome book. Had good talk with my dad too about bits from it. I’m three quarter of the way now.

On my nightstand I have Tales from Outer Suburbia, which I read every night a few minutes before I go to sleep. It’s a collection of short stories, so I’m thinking that reading one story or two on one sitting is the way to go at it, and I really enjoy it! I read a book of short stories before, I just kept going to finish it, and it wasn’t great. So I reckon I should try another way. Reading them slowly happens to be great. I love it!

I was thinking to combine my Mailbox Monday post into this Sunday Salon post, but heck, I’ll just do it tomorrow. As it happens, I don’t have book reviews in line right now. So I’ll distract people with other posts.

Or a baby walrus! Oh look!

Ethel & Ernest by Raymond Briggs

Ethel & Ernest

Ethel & Ernest is a true story of Briggs’ parents, from their first encounter to their deaths. It’s a story of two ordinary people, who experience the changing of the world around them: Second World War, the arrival of television, people landing on the moon, as they brought up their only son. It’s really nice for a change to read a book about ordinary lives. No abuse, violence, extreme poverty, and all the things that make the world dark and gloomy. This time, it’s intimate insight into life of a simple working class couple, who have simple wants and dreams, who are happy and sad for things that are important to them (not necessary to the world of course).

The main storyline is okay, but I found some scenes to be very choppy. Sometimes there’s no transition to one scene to another, and scene can change in one page from one to another abruptly. So that makes it a bit hard to understand. Furthermore, the setting is in Britain, and there are some references that I couldn’t really get or relate on. But that’s probably just me.

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At some points of the book, I felt kinda annoyed with them. Interestingly though, it’s probably what I feel with my parents. I feel annoyed with my parents sometimes (okay, often!), but I cannot not love them. Their complaints to some aspects of life and to their son sound familiar. It probably just hits close to home. So at the end of the book, it’s really painful to see them dying. I mean, everybody has to die and you know from the beginning that the book tells the story of Ethel and Ernest until their deaths, but it’s still hard to swallow. I remembered my parents.

The art! How pretty! The art was exactly the thing that pulled me. I think it’s combination of crayon, color pencils, and marker. They somehow just make into something really beautiful. Love it! Look at the cover art below. The whole book looks pretty much like that.

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It’s really hard to rate a graphic novel without considering the art. So that’s what I’m gonna do.

Rating: 4/5 (3.5 for the storyline, 4.5 for the art)
Pages: 104
Publication year: 1999

Award
1999 The Illustrated Book of the Year from Galaxy British Book Awards

Also reviewed by

Things Mean A Lot (whose review just appeared on the same day before mine. We probably read it at the same time by coincidence :)

Sunday Salon: Lazy Week

The Sunday Salon.com

It’s been a pretty slow week for me. I’m just somehow not in the best mood to read or to blog. *sigh*

I’m currently reading Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie. I find the beginning pretty slow going. Also, I’m awfully aware that Shamsie is a Pakistani and she chose to write about a Japanese girl when she’s never been to Japan, and this fact somehow bothers me a bit. I know a lot of people write about places that they’ve never been to, like the famous Herge (of Tintin), but only now I am wondering how much of knowing this fact would distract me from fully enjoying the book. I’m probably just a bit defensive because I read a lot of books by Japanese authors, and a tiny voice at the back of my mind questions why I want to read a book about Japanese or Japan by an author who’s never set foot on the land, if I could read works by people who are more connected, by origin or birth.

How about you? Do you mind to read a book with setting or protagonist that are of a different country with the origin of the author? I don’t mind it if the author has spent a considerable amount of time living there, but what if she/he hasn’t even been in that country and has no connection whatsoever in the family tree? Would you question how much the author actually knows about the place and the culture? Does it bother you at all that he/she writes about something completely foreign to him/her?

I didn’t know it could bother me until now, though I’m still not sure to what extend. I’m definitely continuing to read and see what I’d feel about it at the end.

On another note, I received a couple of awards from these lovely people below.

Jess from find the time to read has given me the Let’s Be Friends award. Aaw thank you for the attention. That’s sweet ;)

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Cheryl from The Unadorned Book Review has passed me the Proximidade Award. “This blog invests and believes in the PROXIMITY-nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement!” Mmm.. aggrandizement.. now where did I hear that before? :)

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Thanks you two! <3

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

31w-lnnubl_sl160_I finally finished the Potter series. Surge of sadness just came flooding after the last page because it has ended. It’s like leaving your good friends knowing that you may never see each other again. You can only occasionally revisit the good memories, but nothing further. No more adventure, no danger, no more secrets revealed. From now on it would be ordinary lives for Harry, Hermione, and Ron. Yes I AM sad. I guess as a reader it’s a good sign when you’re sad that a book has ended though. *sigh*

Since it’s no use for me to really review a book that has been read by millions, I’m just gonna put some afterthoughts. So beware!

*** SPOILERS BELOW ***

I’m quite surprised how I managed to avoid spoilers until now. I knew that Harry doesn’t die, because if he does, the world would roar. I think that applies to both Hermione and Ron too. Someone did spoil it for me that Dumbledore dies. But I couldn’t accept it at that time until I read it for myself. I thought the guy probably just said it to upset me. It was still a shocking moment of truth when Dumbledore gets killed.

Things that people predicted were correct. There’s something more with Snape. He’s not just one evil guy. Good for him. I thought I was really supposed to see it coming: Snape fell in love with Harry’s mom Lily, but I just didn’t. Maybe because it’s a bit too far-fetched. Like you wouldn’t have guessed that Snape and Lily have been childhood playmates out of thin air. But now that it’s out in the open, it probably makes sense. I’m wondering what happens if I were in Dumbledore position. Would I trust Snape because he cries in front of me for his lost love? Couldn’t that just be all lies and his loyalty was actually for Voldemort? Hard to say.

I loved to read about Dumbledore. All the news and people’s opinions, his past and history. They make him a lot more human and add a lot of layers to his character. Nothing I love more than layered characters. His relationship with Grindelwald makes the book feel more grown-up, though for me it’s more because of their romantic/sexual relationship than the dark magic. :P So mysterious!

About Voldemort, in a way I’m glad that he was defeated in one blow, rather than a typical “just can’t die” enemy who is dead and alive again, dead and alive again, though I’m not sure if I’m really happy with the reason (about the whole mastering the Elder Wand thing). The story about the Elder Wand was a bit confusing and it’s hard to believe that Harry could solve the mystery by himself, that he knew to be the master of the wand, you don’t need to kill the previous master, just disarm him. That way you become the master without even holding the wand. It also gives the wand an unbelievably huge role in defeating Voldemort. I’m not sure if I’m happy that Harry’s triumph totally depends on the wand. Before that I thought the big name wand was probably just a mere object at the end, then people find out that nobody has the advantage by holding the wand.

JKR also killed a few beloved characters, almost unnecessarily, because they’re not given any “screen time” at the time of their killings. It feels like she just needs to kill a few of them, because in that big of a war, there has to be deaths! Otherwise it’s too happy and unrealistic. But really, she could have elaborated their final moments in more dramatic way to satisfy the fans.

The fast forward was a bit rush. I honestly want to know more about all of the surviving characters. I went to Wiki to find out. Apparently she talked about the other characters in interviews: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on Wiki. Rowling tells what happens next. I don’t know why she didn’t just include the stories in the book. I guess it’s hard not to overdo it. People have fallen in love with all these characters and they obviously want to know every little details about what happens next to them. But perhaps there’s no end to it. People keep wanting to know more and more and it’s not possible to include all of them, or else it’d be another whole new book. (which I don’t mind actually. Just a whole book about the aftermaths of the big war and how the characters rebuild their lives again. Yuum.)

Anyway, it’s hard not to be critical of this last book in the series. We grow fond of the characters. We want the best. Something perfect! But that’s not possible. So just trust the author that she has done her best to tie up this beloved story. We’ll miss you Harry, Hermione, Ron, and the rest of the folks. *tearing*

One little thing, does anyone know why they need to wear the locket all the time when they know it’s so destructible? Why can’t they just put it in the bead bag or Harry’s pouch? Is it just because they don’t want it “lying around”? But they carry the pouch and the bead bag all the time anyway. This little detail annoyed me so much through and through.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Pages: 607
Publication year: 2007

First line
The two men appeared out of nowhere, a few yards apart in the narrow, moonlit lane.

Last line
All was well.

Also reviewed by

The Hidden Side of Leaf who then set up this blog to discuss | Stuff As Dreams Are Made On | A Dribble of Ink | The Symposium | 3 evil cousins (funny!) | Reading Rants! | Things Mean A Lot | Literary Escapism | In Spring it is the Dawn | Biblio File (Lavender Brown?) | Quixotical | Books & other thoughts | Musing of a Bookish Kitty | Dog Ear Diary | bottle of shine | A Fondness For Reading | Orpheus Sings the Guitar Electric | Tripping Toward Lucidity | Diary of an Eccentric | A Book A Week | Kristina’s Favorites | Word Lily | Bart’s Bookshelf | Rhinoa’s Ramblings | Dolce Bellezza | My Random Acts of Reading | Once upon a bookshelf | Books Love Me

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