Monday, October 31, 2011

The Napoleon of Notting Hill by G.K. Chesterton

This book is a slightly fantastical, slightly confusing but very fun read. It's set in the future (1984 - Oh yeah, it was published in 1904) and looks at an England that randomly chooses it's kings. One day, it chooses the absurdist Auberon Quin, and he goes about making England into a fantastical, medieval place, with couriers and such. Most of his subjects get annoyed, save one - Adam Wayne, and "civil war" eventually rages.

I must admit, this is not the most straightforward book from Chesterton that I've read. At first, it seemed to be in the same vein as Heretics or Orthodoxy, with very profound and/or quotable lines such as

"For human beings, being children, have the childish willfulness and the childish secrecy."

But it abruptly switches to Auberon, establishing his character before showing how he became King. The story grows more, dare I say, fantastical by the moment. Suddenly, because of Adam Wayne, who will not let Notting Hill be turned into a major road, civil war is raged and the book becomes concerned with the events of war. But since this is not a war book (or poem, such as Wilfred Owen's), it's not about "the pity of War". To me, it seems to be talking about how absurd mankind can become if all they do is aim for rationality.

In a sense, this book resembles The Man Who Was Thursday, in its implausibility. Yet, I find that The Man Who Was Thursday as an easier, more straightforward read, since certain parts seem to be very allegorical (Such as the role of Sunday). And even though it's fantastical, it still feels coherent to me.

There were times in this book where I had to re-read passages, because I wasn't sure what was going on. But that could also be because I was distracted (studying) and so, wasn't paying the book the attention it deserved. But towards the end, everything became more coherent, and I love the ending, where the humour and the passion is reconciled. To cite another author, this time Frederick Buechner, Chesterton seems to be presenting another way of looking of Christianity. In Telling The Truth: the Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale, Buechner opens our eyes to other ways we can see the gospel. Here, we see themes echoed in Orthodoxy of how Christianity is a paradox, and what makes it great.

Hmm... Sorry, but I'm a little incoherent today. I hope I made sense, and I shall absent myself until I regain sensibility.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Follow Up To Forsaken by Andrew Van Wey

I wrote, perhaps two days ago, about Forsaken by Andrew Van Wey, and more or less gushed over it. Now, by virtue of the fact that I live in Singapore, the only books I can ever receive (so far anyway), are ebooks. Most authors seem to send a generic template with the book (or smashwords coupon), with maybe a link to where they want you to review. Mr Van Wey was probably the first author that invited you to reply (tell him where you reviewed), and the really friendly tone encouraged me to send a gushing fan-letter.

I don't normally write to authors unless I'm really really moved, so by nature, I don't expect a reply. So I'm quite surprised that I got a rather friendly reply. Here's a transcript (or "copy" a better term) or the email I sent, and its reply:

Dear Mr Van Wey (Or whoever screens your emails),

Thank you so much for the copy of your thriller. I read it within two days, which is amazing for me since I'm technically having exams :p 

If it's not too much of a bother, can I ask you how you came up with the idea for the book? It ties together the supernatural with art, which are two subjects that I didn't see as connected before. Was there any particular art legend/myth/story that inspired you? (Apart from Stephen King's books)

Yours sincerely,


P.s oops, almost forgot, here's the link to the review on
And the reply:

Hi Eustacia,

Thanks so much for the kind email, although I assure you, no one screens my emails :-)  Although I should have someone screen me from using the internet during the day as I always end out distracted.

Thanks very much for taking the time to read and review FORSAKEN.  I hope your exams go well and wish you all the best with your studies!  

As for your question, how I came up with FORSAKEN, it all goes back to about 2004 when I got really interested in the idea of haunted art.  There were a lot of stories about haunted paintings, haunted boxes, haunted museums or artifacts stolen from crypts of pharaohs and such.  While I find that fascinating, I always wondered how, specifically, something haunted is created?  How does a ghost, physically, get into an object?

At some point I realized that the object itself had to be the message, that there had to be a reason why the ghost would choose to possess something, and that's where art came in.  People always discuss how paintings have messages, meanings, etc., all created by an artist.  I realized that this painting, specifically, was a message to a person who had long ago forgotten something bad he had done.  Essentially, this is the story of a person who has forgotten a terrible accident, and how the ghost of that accident brings about the remembrance of that.  People sometimes say: "That painting speaks to me," but in the case of Daniel/David, it literally does.  It was made by the entity his dead brother became in order to exact 'balance' over his death.  And he used art, something he loved as a child, to enact this vengeance because it was something his brother understood.  Perhaps, if his brother had been a famous musician, perhaps he would've used music instead, but art was a common language they both spoke, and one that I've always found rather creepy.  We generally don't hang photos of people we don't know on the walls of our houses, yet we hang paintings of people we don't know from them.  I always thought that dynamic was interesting.

I hope that answers your question.  Thanks again for taking the time to read and review Forsaken!  

With Warmest Regards,

Andrew Van Wey  

And before I end, here's a link to his site (he blogs too): The stuff he writes are quite interesting, although I haven't read enough to make an informed judgement yet

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Going Places

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...."

- Oh! The Places You'll Go by Dr Seuss-

"The more that you read, the more things that you'll know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go"

- I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! by Dr Seuss-

I realise that children's books, especially those like Dr Seuss, are extremely quotable. I should quote them more often, it's fairly encouraging(:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Forsaken by Andrew Van Wey

Even the cover is creepy,
which is why I try not to look at
it too much. 
 I've actually finished another book that I've gotten from the members giveaway, although strangely, the author requested that I review it on Oh well, I have accounts on both sites anyway.

But seriously, I feel that this book is indescribable. Since I don't really read thriller/horrow (hey, my first time reading Stephen King was around last month, and it was only because Carrie was so famous), this is really a first for me (the blurb pulled me in and got me to join) I stayed up all night reading it despite the fact that the only two activities I should be doing are sleeping and studying (exam season - IB IN 3 DAYS!!), which shows that's how thrilling it was. 

The book centers around a painting, which can only be called disturbing. What's masterful was how the Daniel (the protagonist) slowly breaks down under the influence of the painting, while others are merely affected by it. I think the attention to detail (such as how the other characters perceive certain events), helped to make the conclusion very persuasive and somehow very satisfying. 

Needless to say, I was already scared from the beginning, but in a good way. It's the type of thrill that made me willingly suspend disbelief, which is critical due to the fantastical elements in the book. While we normally think of living paintings as merely lifelike, this painting is really alive. It metamorphesises over the course of the novel, (Ok, not saying anymore to avoid spoilers),  and reaches -mini spoiler alert- a sense of completion at the end. This is why, shadows at the corner of your eyes can be used to instill dread and fear, after all, if there's a creepy painting with its subjects wrecking havoc, you'd have a right to be scared.

Without giving away and spoilers, I will only say that the ending was unexpected due to a very basic, but ultimately wrong assumption that I made. But on retrospect, it made perfect sense, especially when viewed with the prologue. 

The length of the book felt just right (although since I read the ebook copy, it could be different from print copies), but anyway, I felt that it was tightly written, with very little superfluous items. The writing is descriptive, but not overly so (this is important, since I'm reading another member giveaway that is much to descriptive. I can only stomach one chapter at a time.)

So if you like thriller, or want to scare yourself to take your mind off the impending exams (pretend you have them, misery loves company after all), then read this book. But don't give yourself sleepless nights over it. Remember, we have a God stronger than anything in this world, so there's nothing to be afraid of.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Stillwatch by Mary Higgins Clark

This is the second book I got from the Mystery Brown Bag at Clementi Public Library. The last time, I got Invasion by Robin Cook. This time (since it's the same month), I'm supposed to get a book by the same theme, and it's called "Stillwatch".

The book is actually really interesting: the premise starts with Patricia Traymore (apparently this is part of a series), as she moves to Washington D.C to do a documentary on a potential female Vice-President: Congresswomen Abigail Jennings. However, while it takes place (the novel spans one week), she receives threats that escalate in nature.

This book is genuinely exciting. It reminds me of how a book can succeed in suspense without needing to focus on the mystery (i.e. the threats she received). In a sense, this is how Sudden Death should have been like, but failed. The use of omniscient narrator actually allowed a sense of menace to be created, especially as the deranged criminal's mindset was revealed.

The ending was rather shocking and I could say, deliberately coincidental. But I've noticed that to be a feature of many books (well, it's probably out of necessity). In real life though, I wonder if that would be the case. While God is watching over all of us (I'm not saying life is random after all), I do wonder, sometimes, at the improbable situations that occur. A few of which would be me getting into certain programmes, or meeting people that I realise we have friends in common.

While most of this can be explained, such as using the six degrees of separation theory, I wonder if it's all God who's arranging my life. I suppose the topic of free will and divine fore ordination coexisting together has been around for quite some time, but I think we don't appreciate it's complexities often enough. I haven't figured it out yet, and I probably won't be able to, but it's humbling to know that there are things that our human minds cannot comprehend, because it helps instill a sense of reverence and fear for God.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Passage to India by E. M. Forster

I have a sneaking feeling that this book is a classic, not least because the edition I borrowed has the words "Penguin Classics" on it. It's more because of how I've read about it in How To Read Literature Like A Professor (It's a good refresher course on literature). Ok, and also because of the words "Classic" on it. But to tell the truth, the only E.M Forster book I read before was one where he talked about Novels, and that was as research. I didn't like that book, so I didn't start reading this book with any high expectations.

To put it simply, this book is about two ladies who go to India, and one of them mistakenly thinks she was assaulted by a Muslim Indian doctor. The message of the book, which for once is very clear and glaring, is basically to portray the snobbishness of the colonisers and to give a portrayal of British India.

Now, if you don't know this, I should tell you: I'm very character driven. Often, I like/dislike a book based on my opinions of the characters and their actions. Plot is almost secondary to me. Keeping in mind that the plot of the book was simple, I have no idea how I even finished the book.

I supposed it was out of mistaken pride. The book felt long to me (and I'm the girl who reads Anna Karenina and War and Peace for fun), and I wanted to stop many many times. I have a feeling that the only reason why I didn't put the book down was due to a lack of new books, and an innate reluctance to read ebooks (which, thankfully, I've overcame).

All the characters of the book are unsympathetic, especially Azia, the protagonist of the novel. I had a feeling I was supposed to be sympathetic towards his situation but I just felt annoyed at his reactions, especially how he wasn't willing to forgive Adela. Adela, if you want to know, is the girl who cried "rape". My sympathy (or lack of it) for her oscillated towards the novel. One moment "Poor thing" another "...". Perhaps it's how the characters behave. Mrs Moore, who is almost universally praised, annoyed me, especially when she seemed self-centered to me. The only character I more-or-less liked throughout the whole book was Fielding.

P.S If you are lost with regards to character names, you can always check Wikipedia.

The prose though, is really moving at times. I suppose it was those moments that kept me reading throughout the whole novel.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My Writing Sourcebook.

A few days ago, I read an article on why writer's need a "story Bible", in essence, a notebook that contains all the details of your writing. If you want, you can read the article here. But it did get me thinking, and I realise that if I want to write anything half-decent, I should be doing something like this.

If you want to know, I do like writing, I'm just not very good at it, especially fiction. I think, it's because I'm easily excited about an idea, which makes me want to start writing, but, and this is a big but, my ideas always end quickly, especially if they happen to be snatches of dialog or prose.

So, to that end, I started (ok, I just started today, due to my procrastination), a Writing Sourcebook. I'm currently limiting myself to just one story, although I have a feeling that I'll probably write short stories with the ideas that can't be used. For example, one liners that sounded brillant at night but weird in the morning and even weirder of me, that I still want to use them. Trust me on this, forcing lines into stories makes them sound very stiled. In the um, two half pages I wrote, I can see it's a good idea. I have a chance to jot down what comes to mind before I forget about them, and I don't have to torture myself, or the idea, or the readers, by spinning it out into a long, over-drawn story.

It's also supposed to help you keep track of the details of your story, so that you won't contradict yourself. That, is an excellent thing, especially if you can't remember your characters names (For some reason, I only remember the main characters....), or what happened here or there. Like, what is the msn/qq name I gave XXX (And inwardly you're thinking "NOOO, was I even talking about her? Can I just create another character?).

So, you know what has to be done. Get a notebook (preferably unlined, so your scribbles can go anywhere), and start scribbling! I'm sure most of you are much better writers than me, and now you can feel productive, and have a source for all your ideas. Plus, there is something imensely satisfying about getting your ideas on paper, which can't be replaced by technology (although at night, when there is no light, I may have to resort to writing in my handphone again).

Oh, and just one last word. You may find it easier to write in your notebook, if you like it. For example, my very embarassing notebook is by SK-II, the hmm, is it a skin-care brand? But I got it for one dollar and it looks elegant with a clasped cover (so no one can "accidentally" look. And if they do, they have no excuses). But other than that, I can think of others, such as an all-black notebook (if you're like me, and you have terrible handwriting, what my Secondary School Teacher Mr Seow said, that all handwriting looks good on a black background, is true). But make sure you can read what you write.

This, incidentally, is the brand of black notebook I used to journal on my trip to Japan. My friends and I (all the same brand) still swap notebooks to read till now, a testament of how black paper overcomes all bad handwriting.
By the way, this image is not mine. I found it on the web.

Tell me if this works (or doesn't work)!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Ebooks Galore!

Due to my awesome friends giving me hints on where to find free ebooks, like, coupled with my also free ebooks from, I've managed to get books to read during my exam season (no worries, I study before I read).

The first book was actually finished quite some time ago, but I forgot to review it (._.)

If you're wondering, it's called Sudden Death by Michael Balkind, and the title is actually a golf term. The term refers to a play-off during a tie in a gold tournament. Since I actually play golf, I was really interested in how you could make golf a thriller.

Um, well, this book was actually more interesting because of its depictions of how the golf pro's live. The book itself was more of a wait-and-see rather than an active investigation into the threats to the pro golfer. That being said, the main character was likeable and probably the main reason why I kept reading it.

The other two books are by Agatha Christie. They are: The Secret Adversary and The Mysterious Affairs at Styles and basically the only books that I think are under public domain (copy-right issues you see). Well, there's not much more I can praise about her writing. The Mysterious Affairs at Styles was excellent, as usual, and Poirot really had me fooled (and he's really my favourite character of them all). The Secret Adversary is the first Tommy/Tuppence mystery I read (I assume it's a series, like her Miss Marple). It's certainly interesting, although at first, I didn't really like Tuppence, probably because she's too different from me. But by the end of the book, I was rooting for her and and Tommy (you can see the romantic side of Agatha Christie here), although another one of the pairings (nope, I'm not saying), didn't feel as plausible to me.

Yet another book that I finished (this is actually a catch-up of all ebooks I've been reading), is The Demon Girl by Penelope Fletcher, from It's not the type I normally read, but I was so intrigued that this site I always assumed only had the copy-right expired books had a recently published book that I downloaded it.

This book is about how Rae, finds out she's a faerie. Wait, I should give you some background: this is in a world where there was some huge supernatural vs human war (they call it the Rupture) and as a result, most of mankind now lives behind walls in a city.

But back to the book. It was enjoyable because I could really picture it as a shoujo manga. The character descriptions and the inevitable love triangle was probably what made it happen. But since I like reading shoujo manga, I was fine with it. I hope some aspiring artist tries to manga-fy it soon though(:

Ok, the book is a free ebook from and is called The Undying Apathy of Imogen Shroud. It's a zombie book and I'm sorry to say it's probably the only book that I'm not recommending. This is because the book main character (Imogen Shroud) is a lesbian. The fact that this has no relevance to the book (in terms of plot of theme) means I can't understand or even condone it slightly. If you know me personally, you'll know that I'm not the bigoted person I'm starting to sound like here. But because I'm a Christian, I feel called to love the sinner, that is, when my friend is gay, I won't treat that person with disgust just cause of that, but to hate the sin, which means I can't condone any book like this.

I hope this introduced you to a few more ebooks(:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing

I seem to have some sort of affinity with this book. It "haunted" me during my English Prelims, which made me, even through the exam period, go to the library to see if I could find it. When I finally found it (and even if the search took ten minutes, the ride back was fsst! as Huck would say) and started reading, I realised that an even earlier passage appeared in my secondary school unseen.

Is it that good? I'm not sure, but this what I know. The title of the book is taken from The Wasteland from T.S Eliot, and happily, it has my favourite phrase "April is the cruelest month". And that's about it.

Reading the book was confusing. The characters are all unlikeable (and well, the black people were not well characterised for me to feel anything towards them). Dick was, well, he's pathetic, to put it kindly. Mary is also pathetic, and she manages to destroy whatever sympathy I might have for her by being so racist (I don't like Dick, so I'm not going to bother about him). The plot of the book is confusing too. After reading this book, I kept wondering, Moses hates Mary, ok, but were they having an affair?

Throughout the whole book, I haven't seen a nice person, except maybe the English guy who appeared in the first and last chapters, and got so discouraged he had to leave. I wonder if that's a subtle message that in order for colonial powers to stay in power, they cannot be the least bit kind (the guy's no saint, but he's the best of the lot).

I suppose being Chinese, and having suffered from stereotyping, I can very easily disapprove of what they do. But at the same time, I do, unfortunately, sometimes practice reverse stereotyping. I wonder, is it so natural that we want to find a way to look down on others? If you look at history, there's never been a time (except with the early Church, before it became a state religion and opportunists and others came in), where people have lived in peace, equality with no judgement. And sadly, that day will probably never come until the last judgement.

Still, for a book that I wouldn't normally touch, I'm pleasantly surprised by it(:

Friday, October 14, 2011

Light (quote)

"If you beleive only the Sun is important, try reading at night without a bedside lamp"

-Thomas Edison-

P.S My 7 year old brother was the one that edited this photo to what this is.

Experiment with Goodreads/LibraryThing - Review of The Jungle Book.

This was written on both my Goodreads and LibraryThing account. I'm still getting used to the sites, so a full review/ comparison of them will come much later.
The Jungle Book (Tor Classics)The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Previously, I only knew about The Jungle Book if it was the Disney movie, which I didn't even watch. The show looked a little infantile and frankly, I didn't really get it.

Later on, I read and loved The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, which I heard was based on The Jungle Book. Interesting, but still not enough to get me to read it.

Finally, I read The God of Small Things by Arundathi Roy. In it, they quoted The Jungle Book's "We be of one blood, thou and I". After meeting all these instances of intertextuality, I had to read the book.

The book follows a fairly predictable format: story, then a poem about the story. While I was a little disappointed that not all the stories was about Mowgli, the other stories were interesting. I'm not sure about all this imperialism stuff, since I've not studied that aspect of literature in detail, but all I saw was the noble savage idea, such as that of Huckleberry Finn.

Although the stories lagged towards the end, I still enjoyed the book, if not for the content, then for all the wonderful instances of intertexualities within it.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Monocle Magazine (Review)

Magazines are my "guilty pleasure" in reading. They don't feel as content heavy as a book, and in the long run, they cost way more than books (even if it's just $2 an issue, think of 52 weeks a year and many years....). Hence, since I value my books more, I try to not read so many magazines (In econs-speak: the opportunity cost of buying books are buying magazines). That, however, is not to say that I don't have a lot of them. I have about ... well, I'm not sure. Betweeen my Japanese magazines (which get their own special magazine case) and the normal English magazine (in their own, smaller case), I have no more space left. Sometimes, I think that my books and magazines are slowly taking over the house (ok, so maybe there is SOME reason for my parents to try and restrict the buying)

Ever since I read about Monocle magazine, I've been interested in what it's about. I heard many glorious things about it, such as it ways about the weight of a small brick (ok, so for others, that was a complaint). And sadly, Kinokuniya didn't have it (at least the Bugis branch). But thanks to my Dad, who went to Holland V for his Birthday supper last month, I saw it at the Magazine Shop.

Looks promising right?

The Magazine shop is a marvellous place. They have hard to find magazines, like Harvard Business Review. When I asked for Monocle, the guy just pointed to a stack nearby, as though they were so common you could find them at any street store. When I saw the issue was about education (remember, I'm still in school), I couldn't resist, despite the $20 price tag (I can buy a paperback for that price!). Needless to say, both my parents thought it was a waste of money.

But I think otherwise. I think I finally found the perfect English magazine for me. Because a lot of the magazines are either too thin (like 8 days) or have too many advertisments (think TeenVogue), I end up flipping through a lot of wasted spaces.

I'm happy to say though, that Monocle exceeded my expectations. Although it's sadly not the size or weight of a brick, it is content-heavy enough, and the article lengths are just write. I also appreciate the top-bars of information tibit. And one of the best parts is that it is a truly global magazine. The news from different parts of the world was amazingly non-American centric (unlike TIME, and to a lesser extent FORTUNE).

If you have the money, buy this magazine. It's almost as good as a book. To use a different analogy, it's like my Zite app (but with the time limitations of the printed page).

Monday, October 10, 2011

My First Success!

There was a breakthrough yesterday. My sister set a new record by finishing the book I got for her in a week (exactly a week). I'm so pleased, since she only started reading for fun about last year.

The book in question is The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, she's a good writer. If you have any friends/relatives that prefer reading chick-lit, you can recommend this to them. I think that this is actually better than most romance novels, since it's clean.

In the words of my sister, this book is "sweet" and "clean", which is a rarity in the romance novel sector. I don't know if you've noticed, but I tend to avoid romance novels because of all the >.< scenes. Perhaps this is a reason why some people are too disgusted to read? At least for my friends. So, if you have any Christian friends, or friends who want a nice clean story, but don't want anything difficult? Debbie Macomber is a good choice if you don't feel like recommending a YA novel (E.g. Anything by Sarah Dessen).

On a side note, there is a series of new apps called Booktracks. I don't recall if I've actually written about it, oh wait, I'm pretty sure I did. But anyway, I found an article on TechCrunch which basically disproves of the whole idea. And I thought I was the only person that wasn't jumping for joy at the thought of Booktracks.

I have shown the app to a few of my friends, but after the initial "Ooh" and "Ahhs", they just lose interest and move on to Sushi Chop (or its equivalent). Perhaps it's just me, but I wouldn't recommend getting this if you want people to read. Or if you like reading a lot (like me), since I'm not suited for this app. In fact, I've deleted all the ones I've downloaded, and to my amazement, I feel no regret or sadness. Perhaps the apps are too short, (I mean the length of the books), but it just doesn't seem to have enough omph to dazzle me. Right now, I'm more excited about sites like and, which let me download books free and legally(:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Travelling Light by Max Lucado

I've had a few encounters with Max Lucado's books before, although I haven't actually read them. For some reason, many people think that I'm a big fan of his books (actually, I'm a fan of Phillip Yancey). So, out of curiousity (and if you must know, also because I was out of books), I picked up Travelling Light from the Church library to give it a go.

Now, it took my simply ages to finish Free Of Charge. Mostly because I haven't had time. Plus, I just love reading and re-reading passages. It took me one day to finish Travelling Light. This doesn't actually say much, since I had way too much time at school that day, plus I have finish other awesome books in a day too. But when I finished reading the book, I felt a sense of un-satisfaction.

Now, I'm not saying the book isn't good. It is. There are passages that made me think, hmm... that's something I have to consider. But at the same time, I didn't feel any emotional connection, that I expected to have, with the book. And this isn't because of the prose. Because I'm pretty sure the prose was meant to evoke a personal response. I know, because when I try to emote (and pretty much fail) in my writing, I subconciously tend towards that kind of style. But despite all that, great (I think) prose, good content, I didn't think much of the book.

But I did give it a second chance. I left it for a day, but when I picked it up again today, I felt even less motivation to read it. And it's not because it's all roses in my life right now. Right now, I'm being pricked/stabbed by all sorts of thorns. And not only in school. But even though I tend to turn towards the emotional in these kind of times, it just didn't work. And I have no idea why.

This is why, I'm reserving judgement for this book. I won't say if you should or should not read it. I have no idea so...

Friday, October 7, 2011

An Update to Free of Charge by Miroslav Volf

I'm impressed.

I sent a letter I mean email, to Professor Volf yesterday, about my doubts about indiscriminate forgiveness and the law. To my surprise, when I checked my inbox today, I saw a reply. It's actually my first time writing to an author and I wasn't expecting to get a reply, especially since I wasn't sure if my email would be blocked by spam filters (I found his Yale email address). But to clarify things, here's his reply to me (my email to him was more or less the same question I was talking about in my last post.

"The issue that you present is not just a matter of the relation between the
two--the abused to the abuser--but also relation between the abuser and
others. The abused can and should forgive the abuse she/he had suffered, but
must love all the third parties who might suffer (and the abuser
him/herself) and therefore do what he/she can to prevent future abuse, and
do that both for the sake of the potential victims and for the sake of the
abuser. So yes, I think if the potential for future harm is there,
prevention (also via reporting to the police) is important. And in any case,
I do not think that personal forgiveness is incompatible in all cases with
prosecution by the state. Hope this helps."

If anyone was confused with the same things as me, I hope this helped clear it up too.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Free of Charge by Miroslv Volf

"What can we give that You have not given/
What do we have that is not already yours?"

-Lyrics from Lord I Offer My Life To You-

Uncle Winston recommended I read this book because it had many references to other books and popular culture. Well, it's true, and it's a wonderful read. My proper book review for it is on but here, I want to talk about my personal response to the book.

Honestly, the part that struck me the most was the section on Giving, because I realised that yes, we don't own anything, not even our lives because God is the one who sustains our lives. And it made me sad that I haven't been able to give more, to be a conduit for others. In fact, I've been stingy with my time and words, especially when it comes to exams, and I start to focus too much on studying.

The part I struggled with most on the other hand, was the part of forgiveness. I'm by nature, a very argumentative person, as I said before. I'm quick to take offense, and even as I say the words "It's ok, it doesn't matter", my heart is screaming at the unfairness of it all while my face smiles. It takes a lot for me to properly forgive.

But while I was reading this book, I think God gave me a glimpse of Justice and Mercy.

God is Just. When Jesus was on earth, he delivered the harshest sermons you could imagine. He told us to pluck out our eye if it caused us to sin. He said to call your brother "racca" is akin to murder. He threw the table of those of commercialised the House of God. Yes, our God is a God of Justice. If you look at my review of Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, you can see that I firmly believe that thre are cases when the law is brokern, where Justice should be administered and not let go by merely using the word "forgiveness".

But God is also incredibly merciful. I was reminded of this when I suddenly recalled my friendship with my closest, oldest and dearest friend. i'm not sure what quite moved me to imagine: if one day, my friend were to tell me she did some wrong (maybe against me, maybe not), and asked me if I judged her, what would I say?

I realised that I couldn't judge her. My friendship with her is so deep that I see her life in totality, from when we first met, and not by incidents that happened. I wouldn't be able to judge because I love her too much. And I think, that might be what God's mercy would be like. He loves us so much he found a way to spare us his terrible judgement.

And his judgement would be terrible. As I further reflected on my frienship with my best friend, I realised that if someday I do judge her, it would be terrible. And us being fallible humans, it would probably ruin our frienship for good. You see, I would judge her in totality. And everything she did, no matter how small, would carry the same weight as any huge crime she might have committed. Perhaps that's why Jesus said that whoever breaks the smallest commandment breaks the entire law. Because God loves us so much, that in His perfect Judgement, he judges us as a whole and all sin, no matter how we try to classify it, maybe as venial sins or mortal sins, it would all just all be sins in His eyes.

And the glimpse of His Justice and Mercy fills me with awe, fear and love. Yes, love because He is love and it;s shown in His justice mingled with mercy.

Monday, October 3, 2011


I've got a small respite from the onslaught of exam stress recently, and as usual, I went around trying to get people to read. It's actually a very serious disease that can cost a lot.

For example, my second sister told me she was finishing our stock of Sarah Dessen (pretty much the only writer she reads) and she needed more, in her words, 'chic-lit'. That was on Saturday. On Sunday, I went to Littered With Books, and due to my lack of finances, rumaged through the sale pile. I spent my last $10 (ok, actually $9 and I still had about $7 left) on The Shop At Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber, which I reviewed here. If I know my sister as well as I think, and I hope I do, then she'll love this book. It's hard for me to find a good and light romance story, with no disgusting sex scenes (seriously, I don't need to know what they're doing all the time. Or read about it). More often then not, I have to head to the YA section, which is getting over-run with Vampire/Werewolf stories -yawn-

But if you do know any stories which seem to fit the bill, please leave a comment below.

Another family member in my 'crusade' for more people to read (which I'll now call WeRead for convenience), is my little brother. He has slight ADHD, so the books I read like Enid Blyton and Road Dahl may not be suited for him. In fact, the only Road Dahl book he has ever read is The Magic Finger, which we read aloud together. In fact, he prefers reading out loud at this stage, so hopefully, I'll muster up the stamina to start reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to him soon (he loves sweets, so this should be a fit)

Likewise, if you have a book that will get kids to read, please please please tell me via comment. Or you know, if you know my email, you can just email me. Hmm... Does blogger publish emails on the blog profile? -notetoself: go and check-

Yes, so now, I'm going to try to make a difference by turning my collection of books into a library of sorts. I've always been recommending and lending books before, but now, I think I'm going to chronicle it, hopefully finding a method to this madness (do you realise I have no methodology, no catalog of books whatsoever?). And I've already 'started' in a way. Since I'm known as a bookworm, my older cousin asked me earlier today if I would recommend him some books and readily agreed to come over to look over the books when I asked.

I'm really excited about this. I don't know a lot about the future, like whether I'll go to Japan next year to study, go somewhere else entirely or stay in Singapore. But I really hope that throughout it, I'll manage to get books and the love of reading out to others.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


I couldn't get a class photo, but this is Nic and I(:
"Friendship is born at the mometn when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one' "

-C. S. Lewis- (Taken from The Friends Book by Alison Maloney)

This is dedicated to my Japanese Class friends (Brendan and Nicole). I don't say it enough, but thanks guys. Although our class size has always fluctated (from 3 to a grand total of 5 and every number in between, i.e. 4), the three of us form a special 'core' of the class. I guess nothing bonds people like learning together, asking the same questions (and that question is: HOW DO YOU SAY ____ IN JAPANESE???), and facing the same fear (I'm talking about: HOW ARE WE GOING TO PASS JLPT 5/4). Here's to many more happy lessons(:

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Invasion by Robin Cook

I got this book through the LunchTime Brown Bag initiative at Clementi Public Library. Basically, on weekdays between the hours of 11am - 2pm, you can pop down to the library, pick a 'brown bag' with a mystery book inside and borrow it. I think it's a fantastic initiative that should be copied by other libraries, since it exposes readers to books they might not normally read. Of course, the converse is true, and you could end up getting a book you really hate.

Well, I would say my first attempt at the brown bag worked really well (I even resisted the temptation to peek before borrowing). I got the book "Invasion" by Robin Cook.

The basic premise of the story is that aliens have invaded mankind - through a virus. After a short flu, it turns people into what can be called (and is called) the "alien consciousness", where they work together for the collective good and to save the planet. Sorry to those who have a chronic condition like Diabetes, you'd die from the flu (which essentially implies that I will die, since I have thalassemia). And like any apocalyptic novel, there are a group of survivors who try and save the day.

At first, I couldn't put it down. Then, when I finally did put it down, I couldn't pick it up. I felt that towards the middle, the book started dragging a bit. In fact, when I review the book in my mind, I find that it's much shorter than expected.

But this need to cut down on words is too often needed (like with me and possible everything I write). To cite one example (no, I'm not using this blog), when I was writing my Extended Essay, I once receive a comment that along the lines of how it had the content of 1500 words. At that point of time, I was at the 4000 word limit. Ouch. But thankfully, I learnt how to be more concise in my EE and it was all the better for it (certainly better than if there was no limit and I was allowed to be ramble)

Another point (a bigger one), that I didn't like was that it was so obviously pro-evolution. And not just in the preface. While I understand using theories, but seriously, evolution as fact? Tell me the logic in that we can magically gain genetic information when all known mutations so far involve either losing information or duplicating it. Sorry, but it just doesn't cut it with me.

But since the book is fiction, I suppose that in the end, in order to enjoy the book, I just took everything as fiction, even the premise (yes, evolution to me is a story that isn't true)