Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Teaser Tuesday - Big Ideas of Lee Kuan Yew

Hey! How's everyone? I've been completely swamped with schoolwork (four reports to write in a week), and haven't been able to blog lately. In fact, I'm not sure if I have time to blog this week :/ Thankfully, I don't have any blogging stops.

Anyway, this week, instead of a current book, I thought I'd share an excerpt from a book I just finished (before all the school madness started). It's called The Big Ideas of Lee Kuan Yew, edited by Shashi Jayakumar and Rahul Sagar. If you're curious as to why I chose to read this book, you can read my reasons here.

My teaser:

"The Chinese leaders were probably aware of Vladimir Lenin's famous maxim: "Probe with a bayonet: If you meet steel, stop. If you meet much, then push." By demonstrating a steely spine in his dealings with great powers, Mr. Lee helped to expand the geopolitical space for Singapore." (page 12)

If you're wondering, this particular "dealing" would be Mr. Lee telling the Chinese government that the book they tried to give him is merely their version of history, and that India has its own version. And that anyway, what the Chinese thought had nothing to do with us. That was a brave move, in my opinion.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. 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!
What is your teaser Tuesday? 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Village Effect by Susan Pinker

This book and I got off to a bad start. In the introduction, it said "it's illegal to buy or sell organs for transplantation everywhere in the world except Iran and Singapore." That led to about half an hour of frantic Googling, and yes, you're going to read about it next.


First, the Human Organ Transplant Act (HOTA) saysPART IV
Buying or selling of organs or blood prohibited and void
14.—(1) Subject to subsections (3) and (4), a contract or an arrangement under which a person agrees, for valuable consideration, whether given or to be given to himself or to another person, to the sale or supply of any organ or blood from his body or from the body of another person, whether before or after his death or the death of the other person, as the case may be, shall be void. [14/2009]
(2) A person who enters into a contract or an arrangement of the kind referred to in subsection (1) and to which that subsection applies shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both. (emphasis added)
What the author was probably thinking about, was the addition of the word "compensation" to HOTA. Part 3, section (c) says

(c) any contract, arrangement or valuable consideration providing only for the defraying or reimbursing, in money or money’s worth, of such costs or expenses that may be reasonably incurred by a person in relation to —
(i) the removal, transportation, preparation, preservation, quality control or storage of any organ;
(ii) the costs or expenses (including the costs of travel, accommodation, domestic help or child care) or loss of earnings so far as are reasonably or directly attributable to that person supplying any organ from his body; and
(iii) any short-term or long-term medical care or insurance protection of that person which is or may reasonably be necessary as a consequence of his supplying any organ from his body.
Also, this is limited to Singaporeans/PRs. If what I read about Iran was right (I don't know the relevant act, so I didn't look it up), it's legal for citizens to sell their kidneys for profit, something that is illegal in Singapore. What Singapore is doing is similar to what Australia is doing (and if you listen to that article, they're not the only two countries). So the author was mistaken to include Singapore - if she wanted to make compensation a form of buying and selling, then she should have included Australia and any other countries who do the same.


Anyway, after that rocky start to the book, I thought it was interesting. The book is basically about how face-to-face contact can really, really help our health, and how screen time may not be as beneficial as we think it is (although the technology is useful). The author goes out of her way to stress that she's not a technophobe, but that she wants more contact for people.

There are a lot of studies in the book, which would be the basis of all the recommendations/implications of face-to-face contact. Of course, after the whole including Singapore in list of countries that allow the selling of organs because of misunderstanding a law (and then suddenly correctly understanding that Australia's stance), I'm more than a little hesitant to let believe all her interpretations of the studies.

This is a readable book, and I do want to find out more about the subject. Does anyone know of a similar book, where someone else looks at the same studies and comes up with their own conclusions?

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

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Teaser Tuesday - Enchantment Lake by Margi Preus

Hey everyone! How's the week going? I'm only in the second week of the new school year, but I'm absolutely swamped. I haven't been reading much.

Right now, I'm slowly making my way through Enchantment Lake. It's a mystery, and I've just started, so I can't say whether it seems good or not.

"Francie looked up, half expecting to see Scarlett O'Hara in a hoop skirt and bonnet, but the voice came from someone who looked more like a Ralph Lauren model (a mature one) dressed casually, but elegantly, for the country, with the perfect hair, the perfect country look, and, Francie realised with a start, the perfect face. This woman was stunningly beautiful, and this was the weirdest part: familiar."
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. 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!
What is your Teaser Tuesday? 

Monday, April 20, 2015

I, Coriander by Sally Gardner

I see this book in the used book store.

I buy it and bring it back to Japan.

One fine day, when I have a few minutes to spare, I think "I guess I can fit one or two chapters in. I haven't read this in too long." Then....


Before I knew it, I was pushing back the estimated time I need to leave the house just so I could read more. I actually know the story, but still, it sucked me in (again).

I, Coriander is about, obviously, Coriander's life. I remembered this book as being vaguely related to fairytales, and there are fairies, but it's really about Coriander trying to survive when hardships hit. There's an evil stepmother, a casket, a magic shadow, and a fairy prince, all set in the backdrop of Oliver Cromwell's steadily increasing influence.

Most of the characters here are well-written. Coriander, her mother's waiting woman Danes, the tailor Thankless and his apprentice Gabriel, even her stepsister Hester. I thought they were all wonderfully written, and I even cheered on Hester and Gabriel. The villains of the piece, Maud and Arise were truly despicable, the way they abused Hester and Coriander. The only characters I didn't connect with were, strangely, the fairy fold. There is Medlar, whose role I'm not too sure about (is he a trickster of some sort?), and there's Tycho, the fairy prince. Perhaps it's because they weren't given as much space as the other characters, but they never really leapt of the page. But since they appeared only relatively few times, it wasn't much of a problem for me.

I may have read this a long time ago, but this reread showed that I still love the story. I'm really glad that I bought the book when I saw it.