Review Books (or Books I Want to Read)

I don’t receive many review books and the ones I do receive I genuinely have interest in. But sometimes life, or other books, get in the way of me reading them. I’m thinking it’d be nice for me to give a shout to these books, because they do pique my interest. I have read some pages for most of them, but feel like I can’t write a full post when I haven’t read the book back to back. So until then here they are in the order I received them (which went back all the way to last year -_- ‘):

The Taste of Apple

The Taste of Apple by James Laidler. The Taste of Apple is written entirely in verse, and comes with an audio CD that contains selected tracks from the book. The character is a Filipino migrant and later gets involved in the East Timor freedom movement. East Timor was part of Indonesia before it won its independence, so the subject matter is something that is close to home for me. James Laidler is an Australian and has kindly sent me the book and CD personally.

The Snow Child

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. Feel like this one doesn’t really need an introduction. Once I received it I started seeing it everywhere. Any pitch with the word “fairytale” in it would be very hard for me to resist! I’ve heard lots of good things about this book that is inspired by Russian fairytale.

The Thorn and the Blossom

The Thorn and the Blossom: A Two-Sided Love Story by Theodora Goss. This book has one of the most beautiful design I have ever seen! It is in accordion-fold binding – one side tells the story of the hero and the other side the heroine. It comes with a hardcover box to hold the book in, so you can still have the book spine (the actual book doesn’t). There are also a couple of illustrations in it that look great. Love quirky book design!

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be able to resist a book with a title like that, with a cover like that! It even comes with a book trailer with cool black and white illustrations (from the book). This is one of those rare occasions where I received a children’s book!

The Body is a Temple

The Body is a Temple by Luke Bitmead. This book is set in Thailand and Hong Kong and inspired by the author’s time of living and traveling in South East Asia. Apparently this is Luke Bitmead’s last book, because he has died in 2006 at the age of 34. The South East Asia setting intrigued me, as there are not many books set in that region.

Barack Obama in Hawai'i and Indonesia

Barack Obama in Hawai’i and Indonesia: The Making of a Global President by Dinesh Sharma. To be honest I’m not that interested in Barack Obama to read the whole book, but I’m very curious about the time that he spent in Indonesia, which the book seems to cover well (there are also photographs inside).

Something is Going to Fall Like Rain

Something is Going to Fall Like Rain by Ros Wynne-Jones. This is the first novel by the author, set in South Sudan, where she covered the war there as a journalist in the late 90s. The novel is part war-story part love-story. From the email conversations that I had with Ros, she seems very nice, has tons of experience as a journalist, and has been to some places that I’ve been to or lived in. So there’s a bit of personal connection there :). The thing is, I got only a digital version of this, and I find that it is much easier to forget about a digital copy compared to a physical copy that always stares at you!

Horse Stories

Horse Stories, edited by Diana Secker Tesdell. I’m not a huge fan of horses, but the list of author names totally caught me! It is a collection of short stories by Rudyard Kipling, Saki, Mark Twain, Annie Proulx, Arthur Conan Doyle, D.H. Lawrence, John Steinbeck, Margaret Atwood, and Raymond Carver, to name a few. Also it’s the beautifully bound Everyman’s Library, so yes I said! This is the only book in this post that actually has not come out yet (out in October 2012) – so keep an eye on that people! :)

So does any of these books pique your interest too?


Topsy Turvy Tales by Charlotte Boulay-Goldsmith and Laura Hyde

topsy turvy tales

Once upon a time, there was a publisher called Humpty Dumpty Publishing. They are releasing their very first title ever called Topsy Turvy Tales, and asking Bookie Mee if she would like to review the book.

True story! (I just thought the names are all so cute! :P)

Topsy Turvy Tales is a collection of poems and illustrations of surreal tales. Written by Charlotte Boulay-Goldsmith, and illustrated by Laura Hyde.

When they mentioned that it is in the vein of Tim Burton and Edward Gorey, I could not resist, as I am a huge fan of Tim Burton! I agree completely. There are 4 tales in Topsy Turvy Tales, all rather dark and twisty, with dark and surreal illustrations. In fact one of the tales reminded me too much of The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy, titled Chester the Oyster! (what’s with oyster in dark tales?)

The publisher is aiming at gift-book market and I think Topsy Turvy Tales would be a perfect gift-book for casual and non-casual readers. I personally love quirky book with illustrations, so this is absolutely right up my alley. And I can imagine people that don’t read very much to be able to enjoy the book as well as it is pretty short.

They have also made one of the tales – The Girl with Liquid Eyes – into a short animated movie. I especially like the narrator!

You can also check out their tumblr page. It seems fun and full of attractive looking people holding the book! ;)

Topsy Turvy Tales

Wish the best of luck for Humpty Dumpty Publishing and I’ll keep an eye on their future books!

Gift from British Library

writing britain

You might remember that I was invited to Writing Britain Tour at the British Library a few months back. And now I was given the Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands book, again from the British Library! It’s a lovely 192-page book full of coloured pictures of manuscripts, sketches, pictures, photographs, and first editions. All treasures of British literature!

I loved the exhibition very much, so I will have so much fun dipping in and out of the book, getting an even closer look at all the exhibited items!

In exchange, they’d like me to encourage you to check out Love Letters by Andrea Clarke, also published by British Library:

love letters

2000 Years of Romance
Love letters have been collected and lovingly transcribed to produce this wonderfully romantic collection from some of Britain’s greatest writers and historic figures. Over the ages handwritten love letters have facilitated some of the most intimate exchanges between people. The words of love letters allow us insights into the private relationships of people across centuries, cultures and continents. While many anthologies of love letters exist, a book reproducing actual love letters in the author’s own hand has not previously been published and this book features letters from ancient Egypt to the present day. The original manuscripts of such letters grant the reader a direct connection with the person who actually wrote those personal words, sometimes many centuries ago.

Intrigued much?

The fact that the book features actual love letters in the author’s own hand sounds interesting. Very much in the same vein as Writing Britain as it features many manuscripts in the author’s own handwriting as well!


Everything Else Happened – Play Based on the Stories by Jonathan Safran Foer

Just within 2 days of The Doctor’s Dilemma, I’ve got a chance to see another play at Riverside Studios in Hammersmith (preview was in London, but they will be playing in Edinburgh Fringe festival). Expecting it to be completely different with the former – as this looked like a much smaller production with shorter duration (1 hour), I went with an open mind, and was nicely surprised to find the play as delightful, in a very different way.

everything else happened

Everything Else Happened is a play based on the short stories of Jonathan Safran Foer – whose books I’ve been meaning to read forever since I fell in love head over heels with his wife Nicole Krauss’s book The History of Love. Claire has told me numerous times that I should try Foer if I loved Krauss, as they have rather similar style of writing.

The stories – Rhoda, Here We Aren’t So Quickly, A Primer for the Punctuation of Heart Disease and If the Aging Magician Should Begin to Believe – first appeared individually in a variety of publications between 2001 and 2010 and have been collated by playwright David Kantounas and his co-director Adam Lenson. (I did not even know Foer has written short stories!)

The play was divided into 4 separate parts, each played by a different actor/actress, solo (starring Patti Love, Simon Scardifield, Harry Ditson, and Adam Lenson). The parts were not connected by narrative, but by theme – of loss, loneliness, and things left unsaid. First was a lonely old woman, seemingly living alone and talking to some people who were not really there. Second was a man having a conversation with the recorded voice of the wife who has left him. Both of them were talking to a machine, never to each other. Third was the aging magician, who has flashback of his former life, just before his death. The last part was the one that tied things together. A Jewish man with presentation slides, describing symbols and their meanings that dominate conversations in his family.

The stage was simple and intimate and we got a chance to sit at the front – absorbing everything in full strength! I loved the transition between the parts. All four characters moved the stuff on stage together, seemingly working together in a synchronized way, but staying in their own little world, like they didn’t see each other. Each stayed in their character.

I would love to read any of the original short stories based on what I saw as a play. There was a lot of hearts and it emitted a lingering sadness that stayed with you for a while. My companion for the night was probably taking it even harder than me, and was a bit shaken by it! (aaww..) Well it has left footprints for the both of us.

Best of luck to the crew and big thank you to A Dream Epic production for inviting me to experience this lovely play!

Who’s Jonathan Safran Foer?

Jonathan Safran Foer

Considered one of the world’s top contemporary novelists, Jonathan Safran Foer won the 2002 Guardian First Book Award for Everything is Illuminated, and his follow-up, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, became an international bestseller and an Oscar-nominated film directed by Stephen Daldry. He has written an opera libretto (Seven Attempted Escapes from Silence), contributed stories to the New Yorker and Paris Review, and his first non-fiction book, Eating Animals, was published in 2009 to widespread acclaim.

Everything Else Happened is playing at Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh 2-27 August 2012.

You can check out the trailer here.


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