Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Teaser Tuesday - First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

Exams are coming, exams are coming! Book reading is slow, but thankfully, Teaser Tuesday isn't dependent on reading speed. Right now, I'm reading First Frost by Sarah Allen Addison.

My teaser:

"First frost was always an unpredictable time, but this year it felt more... desperate than others.
Something was about to happen." 

What is your Teaser Tuesday?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Doable by Deborah Reber

New year, new resolutions, fresh start. Although I haven't been doing a very good job blogging - exams seem to come much sooner than last year, and I fell sick :/ I spent the weekend drinking cup after cup of warm water to try and reduce a cough.

But you know, the whole fresh start sentiment counts. Which is why Doable seemed like a good book to read. Subtitled: The Girl's Guide to Accomplishing Just About Anything, I was hoping for a dose of inspiration and practical advice. And yes, I was curious about what kind of special methods girls use to do stuff.

For most of the book, nothing should come as a shock, especially if you've read self-help books before or attended goal setting lessons before (I had them many, many times over the course of my school years). The book goes through 8 steps to achieving your goals, starting with goal setting (remember SMART goals and you're fine), and then going into breaking up the goals into manageable sub-goals, making sure you actually start, getting others to support you, and so on and so forth. Every chapter ends with a quick recap.

Everything is really solid, practical advice that applies to both genders. The only "girly" thing about this book is that all the examples are that of successful girls. If you think about it, that's sad - does it imply that most books focus on boys and therefore girls need their own niche of self-help for what is essentially the same things? I don't think I want to continue down this path - this is the way to ranting.

Out of all the chapters, the one that I learnt from the most (and liked the most) was Chapter 6, "Do the Work". The author goes through a variety of ways people do things, from the short spurters, who can only focus for short periods of time, to the easily distracted (me!) and cliff divers and so on. Each section has a description of how said category-person does work, along with hints on how to use that style productively. I thought it was useful, and I don't think I saw this before.

I think that this book would be useful for people who want to start, but don't know how. There's nothing earth-shaking in here, but then again, there aren't really any earth-shaking secrets to getting things done. All you need to do is to take it one step at a time. Like Lao Tzu says, "千里之行,始於足下" (A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step).

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

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Grimm Memories by Janna Jennings

Last year, I reviewed A Grimm Legacy (click to read review) and really liked it. Soon after, the author offered me a review copy of the sequel, which I naturally accepted. But, because it was in PDF and iBooks, I totally forgot about it until today. So embarrassing, or as we say in Singlish, so paiseh. Since I had to go and teach today (part time job), I managed to finish the book while making my way there and back!

So, Grimm Memories, being the sequel, takes place about half a year later. The four are reunited, and because Andi and Dylan are having strange dreams, they sneak back to Elorium, aka fairy-tale world. Only this time, Quinn's brother manages to come along (he was sent to make sure she didn't go back to Elorium. I guess he failed pretty badly). But the Elorium they go back to is in turmoil. What is happening? That's what the four has to find out. Characters from the first book make their appearance, as do new characters, and the plot twists and turns in very unexpected ways.

I must say, I don't quite understand the ending - how did they figure out things so neatly? Then again, I should add that I was rushing through the book in order to find out what happened, so I may have missed some pertinent detail.

Apart from that, I really don't have any complaints about the book. If you've read the first book, you'll adore how the characters and their relationships with each other continue to grow. I hope that if there are future books, we get to see him in normal earth a little more - I'd like to know how this experience has changed how they interact with others. There are hints here, and if they're developed, it could be a really interesting story.

To be honest, I'm not sure which book I like better. The first book referenced many, many fairy-tales, while this book has more original ideas. It really all goes down to personal preference, but if you enjoyed the first book, you'll probably enjoy this one too.

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

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen

This is actually a two book review in one. I saw this book and the book that inspired it (Betty Cornell's Teenage Guide to Popularity), and figured that since they were both there, I should just read them both.

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek is a memoir by Maya. She's at the lowest rank of the school hierarchy. So when she finds Betty Cornell's Teenage Guide to Popularity, she decides to spend one month per chapter in a bid to be popular (as defined by her at the start of the book).

Betty Cornell's Teenage Guide to Popularity is exactly what the title says. Covering topics like health, dressing, skin care, make-up, how to behave and more, it's reminds me of finishing school, but in a book.

So what happens when you put an (admittedly dated) guide book with a geek living in a less-than conventional place (this ain't the suburbs after all)?

Well, something approximating what I expected. Maya does make more friends, but it's not because she suddenly becomes popular, like a teen movie. No, she starts to make friends because she starts reaching out to people. And in the process, she realises that how you treat people that's more important than how you look (although how you look can influence your self-esteem, so that's no excuse to slack off).

Despite the fact that Maya and I come from very different backgrounds, I really empathise with her. I know what it's like to not belong to one group, but I think how Maya ends up - friends with everyone, is the best way to end up. You get to meet a lot more people that way.

Popular actually contains enough excerpts from Betty Cornell's Guide that you don't have to read both of them. You can just reading one. But, I found it interesting to read the guide (even though I won't follow anything). After all, it's always fun to peek into the mindset of another age.

When I get back to Singapore, I should go hang around the used bookstores a little more. I might find something cool like this.