Saturday, February 26, 2011

Maximum Ride, the Manga 2

I managed to go to the library, although weirdly, I didn't actually have much "school books" to go and find and borrow.... But I did manage to find quite a lot of books that I've been intending to read.

One of them is the Maximum ride manga. It's drawn by a Korean mangaka, so the illustrations are good. The story, as I've mentioned before, is true to the book, so I'm really happy.

The second book is quite cool, since there's a character makeover in it. There's actually not much to say, since I can't really talk about the graphics (because I don't have the suitable vocab for it), and the story, well, James Patterson is a good writer, and I've always enjoyed the series.

Well, I am a bit disturbed by the latter Maximum Ride novels which are beginning to be OOC for me, although that may be because I've been away from the fandom for so long. An 'evil' Angel, even though it's been hinted at from the start, is still creepy.

And Fang can't die! (A rather big spoiler for the novel Fang: A Maximum Ride novel). And he can't leave Max either (fangirl at heart)

But still.... I'll be reading the stories. But I'm probably making a gradual switch to Anthony Horowitz (sp?), since I really love the Alex Rider series. I want to read and watch I Am Number Four now(:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Should I "deface" my books?

I just got my EE book The Man Within from yesterday (because I can't find it in Singapore), and today, I managed to finish analysing it today.

However,before I actually started annotating in my book, I was struck with a (fairly long) moment of hesitation. The book I received seemed so pretty, and so clean (because I waited so long for it), that I really didn't want to deface it.

And because this year, I know two people (a teacher and Mong), who refuse to "deface" their book. Mong suggested that I just write in a separate notebook. However, I don't feel like I've actually studied the book until I've written/underlined/highlighted it.

So... What should be done?

After agonising over it, Esther gave me the best advice, which was "do what makes you happy in the long run", so, I just went ahead and started highlighting. I feel so happy now, cause I feel like I've properly studied the book(:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Alice in Wonderland And Philosophy

I was early for robotics on Tuesday so I went to the library to (hopefully) find EE-related stuff rather than stay by myself in the room. While I didn't find anything directly related to my EE, I did find this book: Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy; curiouser and curiouser. It's a series of essays edited by William Irwin (series editor) and Richard Brian Davis.

It's actually an interesting read. While I have read books inspired by Alice in Wonderland (such as the King in the Glass... at least, I think that's the name); I haven't actually read the book, or even thought about it in a vaguely literary way. I suppose it's because I never did manage to make sense of the disney movie, which I probably saw when I was too young to comprehend.

But this book does introduce a lot of interesting ideas (such as Alice in Wonderland being a metaphor for a drug trip, although I agree with the author that that is probably an overeading), notably, the concept of jam-yesterday-jam-tomorrow but never jam today. It makes a lot of sense as to why experiences (such as school) seem so unpleasant now but are fun/enjoyable before we start school, when we finish school.

Another, more important 'lesson' I took away was the idea of a social contract. A social contract is simply an unspoken agreement between members of society to behave a certain way. Because Alice is not a member of Wonderland, she continually rejects and breaks their social contract. I was reading it when I realised that this was how I could tie my new EE topic together. I was looking at the idea of repeated betrayal in two characters, but couldn't really really see what was going on. But now I realise, that they are, in effect, breaking the social contract between them and society. With this focus, I can probably do an EE that (hopefully) will not have to change again.

I feel like reading Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass now, but I guess it'll have to wait. EE calls.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Grimm's Fairy Tales

I think I mentioned before that I was reading Grimm's Fairy Tales on my iPad, and I finished it!! The nice thing about reading fairy tales (or short stories), is that it's easy to put it down once you finished a segment, which is good since I can't spend all my time reading for fun.

And an added bonus is that from the fairy tales, some of which I've not heard of before, Euge and Sippy are interested in fairy tales. It started when I told Eusebius fairy tales as a bedtime story, and I guess Euge was listening as well, because then she began to request for fairy tales too! This is really fantastic, because fairy tales will really broaden your imagination, and their stories are more interesting than most of the shows/cartoons.

And from this, you can really see their characters. I was telling the story "Iron Hans" which introduces the plot through disappearing hunters. When I got to the end of the story, Sippy kept asking me about the hunters, and why the story had them if they didn't plan to talk about it in the end. This is actually impressive, it shows that he's analysing the story..... Maybe he's going to be a future Lit student(:

Some of the fairy tales her are familiar, some have a twist while others are completely unknown to me. I think it's really great, since it can improve one's writing from reading them (I hope).

And now, I'm thinking that after familiarising them with fairy tales, I really really want to introduce them to Chesterton, well, specifically, the Ethics of Elfland chapter in Orthodoxy. I think it's a good way to introduce them to an alternative viewpoint of fairy tales.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The New Birth Order Book

Thanks to Euge being in MG Secondary, I managed to get her to borrow The New Birth Order Book by Keven Leman, which is scarily accurate.

It talks mainly about how your birth order can affect your character, and quite a lot on first born's and perfectionism. Actually, the traits that he gives to characterise each birth order is really accurate, I can more or less guess who is which birth order.(:

One criticism I saw on was that he spent too much time talking about his childhood. But I thought it was really interesting, and that it actually illustrated how birth order works better. After all, what's more persuasive than a real live example?

And one more good thing is that he's a Christian, so nothing in the book contradicts the tenets of Christendom, which makes me trust his findings/opinions even more(:

Now, I feel like reading his other book: The First Born Advantage.

I'm super busy this week with too much schoolwork, so all my posts will be way too short. But really, go read his books!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hamlet: The Manga Version

I was in the school library today, desperately looking for Literature books for my -doomed- EE, when I came across a Manga version of Shakespeare's Hamlet. While I did know that it existed, I've never read it before. So, when given the choice between Richard IV and Hamlet, I decided to go for Hamlet. Now I know where all the quotes are from. Even "Alas poor Yorick!" Shakespeare really is one of the most quoted authors of all time!

And while initially, it seemed a bit awkward, that faded really fast. The graphics are really good, and I actually understood the plot! Having learnt that Shakespeare is meant to be seen, not just read, I think the manga gives a good telling of the Bard's play.

Although, it was a little bit weird that the play was set in 2107, in a high-tech world. But it didn't give any thematic concerns and it was really fun to read.(:

Go and read it! (And the whole series!)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Other Two Books(:

Well, I mentioned yesterday that I managed to read 2 more books, so I'll just talk about them now before I forget. Although, I don't have any more books to read, and I can't read because of more EE problems....):

Alright, the first book I read was At Home in Japan by Rebecca Otowa. She's an Australian who married a Japanese and became the matriarch of an old-fashioned Japanese house. Normally, I'm very suspicious of such books, partly because I don't really believe that Westerners can understand Japanese culture, plus, most of the time, they sound condescending. But this book, just proved me wrong (the exception that shattered the rule).

The authoress sounds friendly and willing to learn, in addition, the book has so much information about traditional Japanese living. While she doesn't praise everything, neither does she condemn everything, she sounds real and therefore, likable. In fact, I agree with some of her opinions, such as the patriarchal society in Japan, which makes me really interested in the book.

The next book I read, which is just as good, is called Faust Eric by Terry Pratchet. I've stated so many times how much I love his books, especially the discworld series. This is one of the Rincewind book, and Leonardo Da Quirm plays a surprisingly big role. The book is sort-of-but-not-really parody of the book Faust, and Pratchet even makes the demons likable O.o

This book, in fact, reminds me of another book I saw in the library, with the same theme. I can't remember the title, but it's a twitter version of the classics. I have to remember to borrow it from the library next time(:

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Copper Scroll (Joel Rosenberg)

Hey(: Just a quick post. I've actually finished three books, but I want to post about this book first (cause it's so good).

While I've been trying to read this series in order, I don't really know anything, except that The Last Jihad was the first book in the series. (And the Last Jihad was interesting to read in Church, mainly because of the church)

Anyway, back to topic. The Copper Scroll is based on real events, and there really was a copper scroll found. But, unlike the book, the treasures mentioned in hasn't been found yet. But I suppose that's why the book is fiction and not reality.

Anyway, the premise of the book is that after a host of nations have gathered around Israel to destroy it, the Lord sent an earthquake to destroy the armies. OPEC has been destroyed and the newly formed Israeli oil company is not supplying most of the world's oil, making Israel richer than ever.

Meanwhile, Jon Bennect is going to marry (in the book, marries) the Erin McCoy, although they are no longer working for the president.

The story is actually more of a high speed chase, with really interesting fight scenes. But the only thing is, I cannot remember who some of the characters are, so the betrayal doesn't quite resonate as much with me. But I shall be going back to the library to get more of this series(:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Chick Lit.... or not?

I don't know why, but I haven't been very regular with posting, so now I have three books to review at one go. Not that I mind(:

But when trying to to find a unifying thread for three apparently disparate books, I realised some/most/all of them may be classified as Chick Lit by some. Now, I'm not a fan of fluff, but still, I wonder what counts as literary. This is probably linked to the problem of finding suitable EE books that won't get rejected by IBO but that's beside the point. I shall just cut to the chase and review the three books (not in order read).

The first book is The Catherine Lim Collection. Catherine Lim is a famous Singaporean authoress, although I don't really favour local books. But, this was lent to me, so, being a bibliophile, I decided to read it. There are four books in this collection, The Serpent's Tooth (a novel), They Do Return, O Singapore! and The Woman's Book of Superlatives (all short story collections). While I don't really like The Serpent's Tooth and They Do Return, it's more because of the trite way she deals with religion. I have the feeling she's either Buddhist turned Agnostic/Atheist or Buddhist. But the way she seems to trivialise Christianity doesn't sit well with me. And I find that in her novel, apart from the protagonist, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of character developement. Of course, that's just my opinion.

I find her short stories much better, mostly because you don't need to develope charcter, and she can really capture the essence of the story better than in a long novel. The Woman's Book of Superlatives is Ok, but not that outstanding (to me), I much prefer O Singapore! and I'll be recommending it to others. Inside, she pokes fun at all things Singaporean, and actually manages to shed light on Singaporean society. One of the funniest stories are 'Kiasuiam: A Social-Historico-Cultural Perspective' and ' "Write, Right, Rite'; Or 'How Catherine Lim Tries To Offer Only The Best On The Alter Of Good Singapore Writing' "

The next book is "A Countess below the Stairs" by Eva Ibbotson, and I've actually read it before. But it was so enjoyable I just read it again. I really really enjoy Eva Ibbotson's work, ever since I read Journey to the River Sea. There's something really likeable about her heroines, and her writing makes reading an immersive experience for me. Her characterisation is really well done too, and I can really imagine people like that in real life.

The final book is Left Neglected by Lisa Genova, the author of Still Alice. Still Alice (to digress a little bit), is a book about a lady professor trying to cope with dementia. It's an immensely touching story, and I remember crying while reading it. Left Neglected, isn't what you think it is, since the title is a pun. The book isn't about someone being left alone, it's about a successful career woman who gets Left Neglect after a car accident. Left Neglect is apparently a real condition, where the concept (and reality) of Left simply doesn't exist for the sufferer. This novel is also really well done, and the ending is happy but believable.

All in all, three really enjoyable books(:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Piano Lessons: A Memoir by Anna Goldsworthy

I finished one really inspiring book today called Piano Lessons: A Memoir. You see, my Grade 8 piano exam is coming up in 3 weeks and I'm really nervous, especially this is my second time taking the exam. So Aunty Florence lent me this book to "inspire" me to practice.

Well, it worked.

While I'm not the most musically inclined of people (I seriously cannot interpret the feeling in a piece), this book still inspires me to practice hard. Anna (the protagonist and authoress), seems to be like me, wanting to do things absolutely correct (although she can see the 'story' in the pieces). And I saw that in the end, she could only play well when she let go of her nervousness/controlling and let the emotions flow through her.

Now, I'm gonna try to emulate that.

I'm sorry, but I need to go now, I've got an awful migraine and so many things to do....

Monday, February 7, 2011

Building a library

I just finished a book called "How to form a library, 2nd ed". It's a fairly interesting book, and raises some points that are worth consideration. Although, the irony is that this book is on ebook format. (:

One point that I agree on is that "special care must be taken in the choice of books, for upon that alone depends the value of the library". It makes sense to me, because while it is possible to have a library full of comics (not that I don't want that too), if it's only comics, than there's not much worth as say, a library with only novels (I mean Literature). But the best libraries (to me), have a good mix of everything, novels and non-fiction, comics and concordances.

Another illuminating point that was made was that "it is vain to go on the principle of collecting books that people ought to read, and afterwards trying to coax them to read them. The only practical method is to begin by supplying books that people already want to read, and afterwards to do whatever shall be found possible to elevate their reading tastes and habits". While I do try to get my sisters to read, it doesn't always work. But if I get them books that they like (like Sarah Dessen for Euphe), then they naturally read more. And to my surprise, Euge even finished the 13 1/2 lives of Captain Bluebear.

The only thing I don't quite like about the book is that most of it are lists of books that should be in the library (although the author admits that it is not the be all end all list). But to me, it does take up space in the book, and I feel that in building up a personal library (although the book was addressing both public and private libraries), what matters most is that you buy books you like, or you will never read the books you have anyway.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Over the Chinese New Year 2011

It's officially the year of the rabbit!

But unfortunately, I haven't read any rabbit themed books. And although I went to the library recently, I really can't remember much of the books I read (which shows how interesting they were).

So let me see, over the past few days, I read a few ebooks. Including The Brothers Grimm, which made me realise that lots of fairy tales have skewed morals, like one that celebrates the "cleverness" of a maid that successfully gets away with drinking her master's beer and eating his 2 roasted chickens.

And there was a really interesting one called "Literary Taste: How to form it", what was interesting was how it advocated building a library. While I'm not going to take the list wholeheartedly and buy everything (I do have my own list of books to buy), it's interesting how he says that by putting away a small amount of money each week and buying inexpensive copies, it's easy to build up a good library in a short period of time.

As for one of the library books that I can actually remember, The Art of Discworld is the one. It's not strictly a book, but more like a whole collections of illustrations, but it's differentiated by the commentary. It's really entertaining, and like the book says, makes the "movie" of Discworld come alive. And the pictures were almost spot on as to how I imagined the characters to look like.

Alright, I'll talk more tomorrow (I hope)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Killer's Art by Mari Jungstedt

I've finished one book today, apart from going to the library and even finished my BM IA analysis. All in all, a very productive day. This book, The Killer's Art is by a Scandinavia author, which is the first time (I can recall), that I read a book by a European author.

To digress a little, I'm really glad that I studied Siddhartha last year. This is actually a little relevant, because in Siddhartha, I studied about Freud and Jung, and learnt how to pronounce their names. Now, look at the author(ess) name again? Yup, it's Jungstedt, so I was pretty happy that I could pronounce most of her name(:

The book is, on the whole, well written, and by that, I mean that the mystery is well done, and kept me guessing til the end, yet, it made sense, with no unbelievable plot twists. It's apparently part of a series, since it says "an inspector Knutas series", and it's actually interesting enough that I want to go and look for the other books in the series.

The only thing I don't like about this book is the homosexuality. But unlike other books (like The Book of Lost Things), this is actually integral to its plot, and so, I suppose it could be somewhat excused. But I really really wished that it wasn't there, although right now, I can't think of any alternative plot.