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Saturday, January 30, 2016

5 Shortnotes You Need to Know Before You Visit The Magician's Land

#1 : Magician's Land Is Real.
You won't be reading this if you don't believe (no matter how tiny) in the existence of the Magician's Land (or similar entity).

#2 : Requirement(s) to Visit The Magician's Land.
No. You gdo not need to be a magician to visit. A few bucks and a little time for uninterrupted read shall do. I bought the book for RM10 at BBW sales last year and i spent a lovely Saturday afternoon for my read, i mean my ride.

#3 : Worthy to visit.
Compared to the last 2 books? I'd say, I like this one better than the second. But the first is definitely my favourite. Yes. This is the last installment of the Magician's Trilogy. The ending was smooth.

#4 : Favourite Magician.
My favourite magician in the series is Elliot. Awkward, drunkard, the least talented of them all. loyal friend to the end. You can have your pick too. Lots and lots of  magicians in The Magician's Land.

#5 : The Things Before The Magician's Land.
     I. The Magicians
    II. The Magician Kings

The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman.
It's okey if you haven't read the first two earlier books. This book can be read on its own. Though, with some difficulty of course. Like all good series, you need to know and root for certain character to really enjoy the read.

There was this one scene when Quentin was at Brakebills and need to get back to Earth because his father died. After the funeral, he tried to search for something of his dad's that will prove his dad was a somebody in the magicians world. The sad truth was, his dad was just a normal guy, one who didn't even loved his only son. Heartbreaking.

The Magician's Land is a perfect ending of the adventures of those young magicians. The end is like a home they longed for. Home is not a place, its not a person too (though many said its a person). its whatever it is that make you feel you belong to. Many people will travel this desert called life, never to find one. 

4th book done! 7/10

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Come Let Us Celebrate

I'd done reading all of my January TBR (need to re-read Darling to write a post on it in February) and already started on my February TBR. The last book for my January TBR will be on this blog in  a few more days. I am super excited about that last book!

I made a promise earlier on this year that i will take at least one picture everyday and post some of my favourite for my month's highlight on this blog. So, i'll be doing that for this post. Celebrating littlest things in life.

I didn't make it to Siem Reap with my colleagues on the second week of this month, and i can't modify my flight bookings, because Airasia's Website gave me the puffed page. Wasted money there. Should be more diligent. I know.

Trying to form a habit by taking my dusk pictures everyday at 6.30 pm (or around that time). That's the view from my back balcony in Kuching. Behind those trees is a main road heading up to Serian. I am grateful for the trees to liven up my idea of living by the nature (resorts like. hahaha)

My favourite colour is green. Its pretty obvious, right?  The last picture (of green house) is the sulap on the hill at Mibang in my hometown, Ranau. Its very windy up there and i miss the place terribly.

The pictures are settled nicely in collage by a Picture Collage Apps.

February, come closer. More reasons to celebrate life. Chinese New Year and Valentine's. Cheers!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

2016 book read

Usually, my list of annual book read will appear after the year is over. This year however, i want to make this as a motivation tool to read, write a blog post and put it here. Let's see how long will i stay motivated.

1. Under The Dome by Stephen King
2. The Sum of Our Days by Isabel Allende
3. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
4. The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman
5. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
6. Astray by Emma Donoghue
7. Room by Emma Donoghue
8. Frog Music by Emma Donoghue
9. Tenderwire by Claire Kilroy
10. The Fortunate Pilgrims by Mario Puzo
11. Somewhere Only We Know by Alexander Thian
12. Critical Eleven by Ika Natassa
13. Darwin :Portrait of a Genius by Paul Johnson
14. The Returned by Jason Mott
15. Cities of The Plain by Cormac McCarthy
16. High Stakes by Dick Francis
17. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
18.The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared by          Jonas Jonasson
19. New Malaysian Essays 1 Edited by Amir Muhammad
20. Speaking With The Angel Edited by Nick Hornby
21. Jepun oleh Lokman Hakim
22. Evolution's Captain by Peter Nichols
23. Aruna dan Lidahnya oleh Laksmi Pamuntjak
24. Tiger, Tiger by Margaux Fragoso
25. Rindu oleh Tere Liye
26. Negeri di Ujung Tanduk oleh Tere Liye

Thursday, January 21, 2016

4 Life Lessons Gathered From The Inventions of Wings

 The Invention of wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Yes, we Asian (born and breed in Asia) will never understand the plight/ struggle of the Black-White (racial) issue in the West. I don't say the concept of slave is totally alien with our culture, we do have that. I remember, my housemate in my uni years told me about her grandma's ulun (slaves). She's from KB, a Dusun like me. I was shocked to hear that. The closest i can give for a personal experience with this kind of relationship is with my Dad's Om(s) (Timorese helpers at our orchard). They're no slave.

I'd read some books on slave issue, To Kill a Mockingbird, Island Beneath the Sea etc. and watched some good movies like 12 years a Slave, Django unchained etc. But, i never live in a community struggling with this issue. I'm short in understanding the depth and severity of the matter.

So, i trotted on the read, getting to know Sarah Grimke and Handful Hetty. The 2 main characters in the story.  Hetty was given to Sarah at her 11th birthday to be her waiting maid. Sarah's own slave. Slave has no rights whatsoever and follow the master's says to the dot. Sarah was born in an aristocrat and wealthy family in Charleston, South Carolina.  She can be anything she wanted to be, except that she's a she, a woman. Both of them needs to find or at least invent wings, if they desire freedom. 

This book explore that desire for freedom and the fights entailed, of  slave and of women. 

I distilled 4 main lesson i got from The Inventions of Wings.

In a culture and community where uniformity and conformity is of utmost important, this could pose a challenge. You could be a threat to a long-known culture (in this story-the slave keeping practice). people usually stick to whatever they knew, rarely deviating from the comfort of their known environment. however, make sure that you chose to be different not for the sake of being different. Be different if that's the only way to rightly soar. 

Sarah was different ever since she's kid. she refused to be given a maid. she aspired to be more than just a woman of her time. In her adult, she deviated from the usual life and chose a different path to live her life. Hetty, despite her limited choice in life, did the same in every-way she can.

The only way to convince people of your conviction/idea is to be consistent with it. Consistent is a very dynamic word. Never confuse it with stagnant/ static. People, will at times labeled you as stubborn, hard-headed fellow. Stay. 

Sarah was consistent in her belief of abolishing slave. she did what she can, her whole life. 

Don't despair. For every cause, there'll be a kind soul, a kindred spirit to yours. Find them. Hold onto them. Never let them go. They are your other wings people. Flock with them. Learn to fly on each other's strength. 

Sarah got her in her younger sister, Angelina and the Quaker community. Hetty, in her friend Sarah.

The saddest part in any endeavour is a hazy goal. Really, it doesn't matter how you're going to achieve what you wanted to do. Just get a clear vision of where you want to go/ ended up. Freedom is a goal. But, what kind of freedom you need? you can have wings and fly, but, if you cant see beyond the cage, whats the use?

Hetty's words to Sarah haunted me "My body might be a slave, but not my mind. For you, its the other way round".

Dont put shackle on your mind.

3rd book done! 6.5/10

Monday, January 18, 2016

Matthias Schoenaerts

OOOOOO... my God!

Kate Winslate said in an interview i watched on YT that Matthias Schoenaerts is a man, man. 

Kate, whatever you meant by that statement, i wholeheartedly agree. I cant even pronounce the guy's name (darn!). I saw him on MAS inflight entertainment movie. Far From The Madding Crowd. That guy is an enchanter. Then, i saw the trailer of The Big Splash.  Egad..

I know The Big Splash might not be on our local cinema. I do hope, it'll go to Netflix. Now that Netflix is available in Malaysia (without censor at the moment). Let's Netflix and chill. 

Pics are from google image.

Matthias asides, and to the heart of the matter of censorship in our country. Is it even relevant at this age? who are we kidding?

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Sum of Our Days by Isabel Allende

"How great the Father's love for us
 How vast beyond all measure 
 That He should give His only Son
 To make a wretch His treasure..."

No one will understand the pain of losing a child like a mother/father do. This book deals about the pain and longing of a loving mom to her dead daughter. 

She recounted the days when her daughter got sick to her dying day and afterwards, when they got visitations from her.

The Sum of Our Days is a captivating read. Mostly for the flow of beautiful prose describing daily happenings in their household and the honest (too brutal) descriptions of each family members (i don't envy any of them for having a lady-writer in the family).

Earlier on the read, i felt reluctant to read on, because, the book was written in a very intimate, confession-like manner. I felt as if i was intruding in an important and sacred personal seance.

But, as a dare and reading commitment for this year, which is; i wont abandon any book i'd started on reading, no matter how uninteresting or unreadable the book is.  I press on.

Halfway through the read, where Isabel recounted the day she met her husband, i cried. I cried for the description of "spiritual connection". It's a soul matter, beyond lust and mere affection. i cried because, i think, that's the only reason why i don't question much about my leap of faith in believing Jesus as my saviour. My soul is sold to that man up on the tree when i got that spiritual connection with him. 

I am  mighty glad i read another book by Allende. I read "Island Beneath The Sea" a few years ago and it leave a deep impression on me. This book, however reluctant i was at the beginning inspires me to get to know my family and close friends (that i consider my family) better and to fiercely hold on to them, loving them unconditionally. 

Second book done! 7.5/10

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

4 books to Read in January 2016

My USB cable from my (very outdated Iphone) to laptop was faulty and can't be recognized by the device. Needed to upload the pic to FB. Then, from FB to this blog. A long way to do thing, but, it works. (i'm happy)

Ya, just a picture of my TBR (To Be Read) January. I'd done the first book, The Sum of Our Days by Isabel Allende. Each of the book will get a post. (Hopefully- please read this with a wan smile).

I'd be reading the books in this order:
#1 The Sum of Our Day by Isabel Allende
#2 The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
#3 Darling by Richard Rodriguez
#4 The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman

All of these are from my BBW2015 purchase. I am super excited for book #4, because the previous 2 books (in the magicians series) are really good. Yes. Harry Potter is for kids. This is for us, wistful adults. 

Happy reading!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Under The Dome by Stephen King

This is a thick book by Stephen King (and its been many years since i read any of his book). I stopped reading his book after 'The Girl who loved Tom Gordon'. Used to be a faithful follower of him when i was younger. 

In his notes at the end of the book, he confessed that, this book should be thicker than it is if his editor didn't interfere (i'm not sure if i'd read this book if its thicker than this). I spent more than a week to read this book. (and Mr. King spent more than 30 years mulling over the story). So, yeah, we both ended up well. 

I watched the TV series (same title -- Under The Dome) and was hooked on the story. My sister, Linda is a DVD hoarder and i watched the first season while having a break in KK, earlier last year. I initially planned to buy the book at Popular bookstore, but, its quite pricey and the thickness was overtly intimidating. I saw the book at BBW last december, sold at RM10. (Linda bought her copy from Harris- she said she cant wait for the DVD to know the ending of Chester Mill's fate).

My favourite character in this book is coincidentally named 'Linda' (i  think my sister will approve of that other Linda). I rooted for her and she's my motivation to read on till the end (just curious to see if her little family survived to the end)

If you can imagine being trapped inside a glass (like an aquarium, but in this case, its like a glass capsule) and be curious as to how that would be, this book might be for you.  The story of this book started with the appearance of  'the dome'. encapsulating a little town, named Chester Mill. The story then proceed to the town's struggles under the dome, up until their doomsday.

People reacted differently under pressure. The best way to know a person is to see them behaving /reacting under pressure. Work on a big project with crushing deadline, that's how we know instinctively (at our work place) who to trust and who to ignore. Or, for friends/ loved ones, try travelling with them. A week travelling together might show sides, you've never seen on them before.

Under The Dome makes me realize, that time is of essence in telling how precious we value our friends and families. You love them? show them by giving your time. And make the most out of it.  

First book done! 7/10

How to be Good by Nick Hornby

This book is good, it needs a post on its own. Yeah, i'd mentioned this book in my previous post. I still have 2 books by Hornby in my TBR list for this year, so i might write another post on yet another Hornby's book read soon.

My family generally talked when we're together. gossiping, discussing mundane matters. sometimes, when we're up to it, we discussed matters that matter (but, because most of us are hard-headed, we usually ended up arguing and pointing at each other as 'budu' which is not a super valid argument, usually settled over dinner). No. If you imagined my family talked politely, no, we don't. We shout and out-shout each other. Polite is the face for public.

There was this one time, we were discussing the matter of doing good (charity). Our point of argument/ discussion was on the merits of doing good, based on Matthew 6:1-4.  Do we, Christians, in all our humility and desire to do good, do good deeds with the idea of rewards from God? (i'll continue with this after i tell you about the book)

I laughed a lot reading this book. How can i not? It started with a divorce proposal over a telephone. A wife called her husband asking how's their children are and ended up in a proposal of divorce. I remember reading a FB post over a woman gotten a talak 3 over a phone conversation between her husband and his friends (the husband jokingly told his friend that he's divorcing his wife with talak 3). However, because this happened in England and they're Brits, of course the unfortunate divorce on FB didn't happen to them.

There must be something rotten in a marriage if one party asked for a divorce, no?. In this story, narrated by Katie Carr, a GP, brought the reader to know her little family (husband David and their children Molly and Tom). David was a stay-at-home dad. He wrote column at a local newspaper as "the angriest man in Holloway". 'Angriest man' is not a term of endearment. David was obnoxious. when Katie mentioned divorce and started an affair with another man (not because she really wanted to, but because she can), David wont let her off (just to pissed her off, more). Their relationship became hostile until David met a stranger (DJ Goodnews), a spiritual healer that he suddenly became calmer, different David. Katie, who thought she's a good (better) person now seems to be the baddie.

The story turned to be more bizarre when Goodnews moved into their house. More funny things happened and the 'trying to do good' increase, only to succumbed to a 'not so good' results.

I particularly liked it when David finally remembered the Latin word caritas: "sometimes its translated as 'charity' and sometimes its translated as 'love'. 

Love and charity shared the same root word.

My brother and I agreed on doing good for the sole purpose to make our heart light (happy). Do good only if it'll make you happy. If you're hoping for any other rewards, you're up for a big disappointment. And if you try to do good to change the world, i'd say "good luck". You're shitting yourself. (O! the little faith in me). But, then again, you can argue, some people can only be truly happy if the deeds are made known to public. Yes, i'd met many people like that. By all means, if that's how you'd be happy, please do. (The Bible however, don't recommend this approach)

My brother pointed out, this idea wont sell good for reward-of life, heaven-seeking-folks. because then, whats the use of doing good? 

May all of us (in our own ways) strive to be good (by doing good), for whatever reasons we bring our self to believe.  

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Moksin Hamid

I read the book Sunday afternoon (Dec 20th, 2015) in under 2-hour duration in between preparing, cooking and sipping a hearty onion soup. The afternoon was dandy and cool (a real treat to our usual hot, humid tropical weather).

I should be cleaning up the house. Its been 4-week delay from my usual schedule for a thorough clean up. but, meh! let the clutters, cluttered (and me weep when the new year, new hectic life begins, when i will have no time even to change the rolls of paper in the toilet)

For now, let me bask in the proud moment of finishing the book in 2-hour (with distraction). Well, okey. so, the book was lean. very engaging. This is a book (rarely i found) with less words but carry a hefty bulk of value. 

Its opening para was "excuse me, sir, but may i be of assistance? Ah, I see I have alarmed you. Do not be frightened by my beard: i am a lover of America.."

So, the story began at an open market of Anarkali, Lahore. The above person met a stranger (probably an American). Then, the story unfold as he narrated his younger person's story at Princeton to his employment at a very prestigious finance-analyst firm in NY and his relationship with an American girl, Erica.

The flashback story was narrated in a clear first person voice. Realistic enough for a person like me, who never set foot at Princeton/NY/Chile/NJ/Lahore. Somehow the narration give a glimpse of the cities/places and its inhabitants (maybe watching too much Hollywood movies helped constructing  some of the visions too).

I like the way the story turned at the end. Especially, because i didn't see it coming. 

Living in a world where everybody's blaming somebody else for misfortunes and worse still, pointing fingers at a certain religion/race to blame, this book gives the idea of the 'inside' person's perspective. and being an 'outsider', we'll never fully understand the weight (the gravity and meaning) of being an 'insider'. But, at least we can try. 

I'm not sure if this should be the appropriate outcome after reading this book, but, i feel strongly about shouldering our own burden in life. Nobody else will. Burden sharing is just an expression, in reality, to each, their own. 

This realization is so bleak for a brand new year post. Mull over it, will you? 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Book Read 2015

The list of my Book Read 2015

1. Lethal by Sandra Brown
5. Slam by Nick Hornby
6. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
9. The Weight of Heaven by Thrity Umrigar
10. Diagnosis by Dr. Anwar Fazal, Dr. Aizzat & Dr. Azah
11. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Moksin Hamid

I am pretty sure i read a bit more than the listed books. But, i'm too lazy to dig up. However, I also have no doubt i didnt manage to reach my reading target of 52 books last year. 

I managed to write some posts for the book read. It's linked to the title, so feel free to click on them. its not much, just a little note to myself and a bit of reflection after read. I will try harder this year to write a more constructive post (ahhh..iya *sigh*) for each book read. 

2016 will be a challenging year to all of us. Challenges that will make us keen to be better and stronger. Cheers!! to a brand new year. 

I'm not  a big fan of a Mollywood Bollywood (!) movie, but of Dilawle's Gerua - thats a wicked number.
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