Friday, June 24, 2016

Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong

I'm actually a bit ashamed to say that I've never read The Romance of the Three Kingdoms until now. All I know about the story are the excerpts from Chinese class/Chinese tuition, and stuff from dramas. So clearly this is something that has to be remedied. However, my Chinese isn't the best, so I opted to read a translation.

The story is too complicated to describe. Basically, a bunch of people scheme and fight and betray one another in order to gain power. Of course, there are a few characters who, through either sheer luck or ruthlessness, manage to remain in the story. For me, the two that come to mind are Cao Cao and Liu Bei plus his sworn brothers.

Oh, and for some reason, I've always had this Cao Cao = bad and Liu Bei = good association in my mind.

This is mostly true (Cao Cao does some really horrific things, while Liu Bei... Not so much), but the characters are more nuanced than that. Occasionally, Cao Cao acts like a decent human being. Of course, this normally occurs after his 'enemy' has been put to death and only when it suits him.

Liu Bei reminds me of the Mulan song, where you need to bend like bamboo in the wind. He really does bend here and there. But he's a good guy at heart.

Which is more than most of the other characters. I really think that he and his sworn brothers are the most loyal characters there (and have the most 'righteous' personalities). Everyone else... likes to listen to what suits them. But I guess that's human nature.

Oh, and the most pitiful character is definitely the emperor and his family. They're basically puppets of the prime minister, which reminds me a lot of the emperor and the Shogun in Japan (though this comes first, I think)

I'd totally read on. But before I pick up the second volume, I have quite a few other books on my TBR list. And I guess when I've finished this, I should go on to the Red Chambers (can't remember full title) and other classics.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Raven's Peak by Lincoln Cole

I won this book on Kindle Scout, so yay for that!

Raven's Peak follows... well, it's either Abigail or Haatim. So my normal opening sentence does not work here. Basically, Abigail hunts demons, and Haatim is running from his past. When Haatim unwittingly becomes entangled in the whole demon world, he meets Abigail and things start to get weird and dangerous for him. The two eventually end up at a tiny town called Raven's Peak, where people are going crazy, and where Abigail and Haatim will both have to face their past in one way or another.

I've previously talked about Lincoln Cole's books, and this was as good as the other, even though he's writing in a completely different genre. I'm really not kidding or exaggerating when I say that I was flipping the pages as quickly as possible. From the prologue, which doesn't make sense until you're deep in the book and then it hits you, to the ending, the book had many twists and turns. It was definitely a thrilling read (kinda like the roller coaster of books, come to think of it).

As for the characters, I really liked Abigail and Haatim. They worked well together, and they both had that essential spark that made them come alive to me. For Abigail, it was her bonds to the man she thought of as father (or a father figure). For Haatim, it was the tragedy in his past. Both of them are weighed down by it, and getting over them is something that they have to do if they want to confront the external problem that's all around them.

If you're a fan of horror, I really recommend this book. And if my word isn't enough, think of it this way: enough people liked the book to nominate it, and it caught the editor's eye over at Kindle Scout, so that should tell you how good it is.

Disclaimer: I know the author, and I nominated the book for Kindle Scout, which is how I got my copy. The gushing, however, was made of my own free will and is my honest opinion.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Natural Curiosity by Lisa Carne

I must say, I like this book a LOT more than the other unschooling book, the one by the lady that really hates schools. I can't remember the title or author, and I don't really feel like looking for it, but I remember that it was fairly famous.

Anyway, Natural Curiosity is a book on unschooling, based on children's natural affinity and love for things in nature. The book basically posits that you can use nature as a starting base to learn anything, and the author tries to show that through stories about how her children learn. The only thing that I really disagree with is the quote:
"A class rota appeared where the children were occasionally expected to take their turn in sweeping up and cleaning the dinner hall after lunch, which meant missing valuable playtime." 
I can't remember if I've said it on this blog before, but I think that it's good for children to take part in keeping their schools clean (and their surroundings in general). I really do think that by teaching them that they're responsible for cleaning up their surroundings, it's easier to teach them to respect their surroundings. I mean, if they litter (for example), they'll realise that someone has to pick it up, and perhaps it'll help them see that it's best not to litter. Plus, the book itself says "occasionally", so it's not as though the kids were being forced to scrub the school every day.

By the way, as charming as the stories about her family were at first, the "Distraction" sections, which are literally her writing what's distracting her proved to be too much, and I eventually started skipping those and the "Note" sections as well. There can be too much of a charming thing.

I think this was an interesting book, although I still firmly believe that unschooling only works for certain types of children, while school is probably better for others, depending on their character and learning style.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Teaser Tuesday - The Stone Child by Dan Poblocki

Hey everyone! I hope you had a good week last week(: Like I mentioned in the previous TT, I went back for my cousin's wedding, and it was an amazing few days! My cousin was beautiful as the bride, and it was great to see everyone again. I even managed to put on a kimono for the wedding ceremony. The only thing was... I didn't have much time to blog (or go on the Internet).

Right now, I'm reading The Stone Child by Dan Poblocki. I don't know how I found it, but it's in my wishlist, so I decided to borrow it. So far, I like it.

My teaser:

"A bookstore was always cozier than a library - more comforting - a familiar place in an unfamiliar town. He picked up his bike from the sidewalk." 
What about you? How has your week been? What have you been reading?

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Jenn of Books and a Beat. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read 
  • Open to a random page 
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page 
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) 
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!