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Sunday, September 07, 2003
Saul Bellow - Seize The Day  

Title: Seize The Day
Author: Saul Bellow
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 8.5/10
I knew that some day I would have to review this book. I did not like this book initially. It was a required reading for my Contemporary Fiction course back in my undergraduate days, and Saul Bellow... oh well, Saul Bellow is Saul Bellow of course. He won the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature in 1976, and he happens to be the first American to win this prize after John Steinbeck. The thing about Award winners, Nobel Peace Prize for Literature award winners in particular, well, they all share this common trait... their novels, are pretty ... complex. They talk a lot about life. They present you the raw depressing bits of what its like to be human. If you're a deep thinker, they're fine. But usually, they get you thinking too much, and you may get depressed after reading their works.

Seize The Day may sound like an optimistic title for a book, but in reality, the plot brings the reader deep, deep down into the wallowing dungeons of its depression. The protagonist, Tommy Wilhelm is one big time anti-hero. Here's a guy who's separated from his wife and has kids who don't respect him, lives in a dingy hotel with his rich and arrogant doctor father who thinks he's a good-for-nothing, a failed actor (his manager once said that he's the type who's fit for 'the guy who loses the girl' roles, and up to his neck in his financial problems. Tommy's got a bad way of handling his life, but this guy does not look like he's about to do anything radical to change it. He meets this sleazy conman Tamkin and although he knows it clearly that Tamkin's a big-time hoax, and really bad at it too, Tommy still thinks that whatever Tamkin's proposing to him is worth a shot at. Well, you'll read about it, won't you?

The entire plot of Seize The Day happens in one day. There are instances of flashbacks employed by Bellow that help give readers an idea of what has happened to Tommy that puts him in the position. Now everything is rather climatic, and the language style is steadily paced. It moves in a New York pace, so you see Tommy rush from one place to the other, and the climax just pushes forward. The reader will probably move from oblivion, to chaos... and truth be known, this particular reader was stuck in the chaos for sometime until a few months later when I remembered this book and everything just sunk into place. There isn't order now, but there is a reason why Saul Bellow won the Nobel prize. This book is a good determiner of that. You'll probably hate it for its lack of optimism, you'll even despise it for putting you down into depression! But months down the road, when you're faced with the problems of life that Tommy faces (although, hopefully, not to the extent that he faces them) and if you've read this book before, you'll probably remember how Bellow skilfully brought the realities of the urban rat-race into a 100-odd page short novel, and how the essence of carpe diem was masterfully captured in the one day in the life of a failing loser.

Which is why I give it a strong 8.5 out of 10. Everyone has got to start somewhere. Carpe diem. But carpe diem gracefully, cleverly.

minishorts  # 3:19 PM
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Gutenberg Project 

URL : http://gutenberg.net
Rating : 10/10
This is a great site that provides a free flow of books. Mostly classical literature, it also includes some modern classics for downloads. Started in 1971 by Michael Hart, the Gutenberg Project has grown by leaps and bounds with help from many volunteers around the world. Check out the site and you'll find that there are many ebooks online perusal. It comes in the form of ebooks or etext.

The books available online include classis from other countries and in their original languages. Didn't managed to check if all includes an English translation so you're on your own. Some of the books online are from Germany and China. Mirror sites are mostly at universities which makes contributions to this massive project.

They also call for volunteers to help with proofreading of text here. If you are interested to help out, read this article first. Proofreading is done online though so take note. A dialup connection is fine, for me that is. Not that I use it a lot.

Enjoy browsing through the many many books online!

Wena Tan  # 2:40 PM
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Kwality Books - The Thermodynamics Of Pizza 
I've came acrosss several interesting book titles -
Grow Your Own Hair
Ron Maclaren
Glasgow: Healthway Publications
1947

An Essay on Silence
Michael Chater
Abbey Mills Press
1969

The Thermodynamics of Pizza
Harold J Morowitz
New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press
1991
No offense to textbook reviewers, but hey someone should review interesting stuff like The Thermodynamics of Pizza or something. I know I would if I could get my hands on them. Like perhaps some Kama Sutra or Sushi Cookbook or Yoga For Dummies - and if you really do have books like these, I would appreciate it if reviews are made and I might even wanna swap books with you, God knows I have enough Peter and Janes (real classics, I promise you) to last anyone a lifetime.

Yanno, kwality books.

So, any takers?

Egg  # 1:34 PM
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Something Alike  
Been at this site for sometime already but I don't know why I never thought of it when I joined this site. But yeah, something alike, something that we may be able to learn from, bla bla bla...

Its called BookBlog [dot net].

minishorts  # 11:51 AM
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7 Penyiasat - Rahsia Terbongkar! 

Title: Rahsia Terbongkar!
   Tujuh Penyiasat
Author: Am not too sure.
Publisher: Hasrat
Rating: 3/10
Ya, ini dia buku yang dinanti nantikan!

Seronoknya membaca mengenai adventure Si Rama [Big Head I'm In Control Ketua Rama], Balan, Sean Huat, Ranjit, Sarojini, Alice, Ai Lin dan anjing mereka Bobo. Dan juga adik perempuan Rama yang irritating, Susila.

I hate Susila names, btw. Dont know why.

Namanya Bobo sepertilah yang kita frequently nampak dalam filem Hindi. Dan juga di-noticed yang oleh sebabnya ada se ekor Bobo yang saya tidak tahu jantinanya, maka tiadalah watak yang berbangsa Melayu - tidak muhibbah sepenuhnya, tidak jika anda tidak kira watak yang bukan dalam kumpulan esklusif 7 Penyiasat.

[I so wanna call it a bitch, I hate Bobo dogs, just like I hate you.]

Ok dalam episod ini seorang budak perempuan Melayu - Asiah binti Ramli yang telah hilang selepas dituduh mencuri duit dari asrama dan bebudak 7 yang sibuk itu pegi ke-poh dan ingin menyelesaikan misteri itu.

Yang peliknya, cerita ini mengaitkan banyak elemen yang ganjil ganjil.

Contohnya, 'perkataan pengenalan' [identifying word? haha thats 'password' for you!] yang digunakan adalah 'kambing'! Like, get an imagination already! Dan sejak bilakah si-butch-bitch-anjing di Malaysia menyalak dengan 'woof woof woof'? Ha Ha Ha *gelak*.

Nah - ada nih lagi - Si Aisiah tu, dia menyorok di kandang kuda? Nak kerja kat kandang kuda ye? Nak cari kandang kuda di Malaysia pun dah susah. Me thinks they live in some exclusive suburban kampung, KDK - Ketawa Dengan Kuat.

Overall: Siri yang baik, namun translasinya amat buruk; dan cara adaptasi yang tidak betul. Memalukan Enid Blyton sahaja pah. A lame attempt, but hey, RM 2.50!

Best for toxic bathroom literature - Thats how I grew up, my good friends!

This was originally posted by Steph Lee@EggYoilk&Egg

graceshu  # 10:12 AM
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Thursday, September 04, 2003
Andrew M. Greeley ~ Contract with an Angel 
Title : Contract with an Angel
Author : Andrew M. Greeley
Rating : 7/10
Genre : Fiction

Still a bit lazy to take pictures of the book since Amazon.com does a great job of putting up sample pages online for viewing. Plus, having to handle more than 3 blogs now, one can understand the limited time one has at night to do picture editing.

Anyway, back to the book. In the first chapter alone, one is intrigued by the opening lines :

"The scenario says you don't have much longer to live, Raymond Anthony Neenan," the main the next seat said to him. "You'd better straighten out the mess you've made of your life."

Imagine yourself as a high-profile businessman living in the fastrack and trying to get ahead of the pack everyday. Pushing people aside for his own interests. Stepping on lots and loads of people's toes. Neglecting his wife and grown-up children. All of it changes the day he meets the Archangel Michael and his partner Gabby, or rather Gabriel. Being a businessman, Michael offers him a contract i.e. get your life together and be a nicer and better man. Of course, Michael and Gabriel is always on hand to provide counselling, for free albeit a few conditions attached (kinda like the free stuff available online with conditions attached ;p ).

It's a really simple read if one is looking for amusement after a tiring and winding day. Andrew Greeley manages to keep the entire story precise, concise and, of course, simple to understand. Did you know he was a Catholic Priest? :)

I will end this review with his statement in the book :

This story is an exercise in speculative religious imagination, not in formal theology. Its premise, like that of my other angel books, is that the works on earth we attribute to angels are in fact the result of the intervention of a much more highly evolved bodily creature from "elsewhere".

Let's see if the freudianspit will start commenting on this. ;p

Wena Tan  # 11:21 PM
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John Gray - Mars and Venus on a Date 

Title: Mars and Venus on a Date
Author: John Gray
Catagory: Self Help
Ratings: 8/10


Here is one of John Gray's books from the Mars and Venus series, following the highly successful 'Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus The blurb on the acclaimed Gray's site
reads like this:

"An important guide for all single people looking for love. With this book, John suggests creative ideas for finding that special person to spend the rest of your life with. He offers advice on difficult issues such as deciding when to become intimate and when to end a relationship.

John takes readers through the five stages of dating:
1. Attraction
2. Ambivalence
3. Commitment
4. Intimacy
5. Marriage

He explains what to anticipate in each stage and how to handle the problems that arise on a couple's path to commitment and marriage. "

Now add that up together and what do you get?

A really hilarious book, fun to read with reasonably applicable rules and tips for pondering upon. In this book, John claims to be able to help readers 'find the right person' by walking through the five stages as mentioned above. By discussing Mars tendencies and Venus temperaments, Gray provides what he calls 'real life' examples, which I'm certain readers who are in a relationship or have been in a relationship will identify easily with. He also discusses entire chapters of 'case studies' and with chapter headings like 'When the Clock Keeps Ticking and He's Not Wearing a Watch' and 'Men Are Like Blowtorches, Women Are Like Ovens'... you can expect eyebrow raising instances as you smile and cackle over the hilarity of it all. There's even a chapter that provides a list of '101 Places to Meet Your Soul Mate', and if you are in great need of a dating partner or really crave to find out what its like being in a relationship, you just have to check out Gray's tips. I think for this site, we should probably go with tip #36:

If you always buy books, try hanging out in the library, where people read but don't buy.

As well as with tip #37:

If you don't read a lot, try hanging out in a bookstore and ask people who their favorite authors are. Strike up a conversation and get to know someone by asking more questions about favorite books.

My personal tip would be this: If you don't read a lot and want to find out what's the deal on reading, and you don't want to get bored silly by heavy stuff, try some really light self-help reading that will probably click with you. Its really funny, and its got me thinking about getting the more famous book. And hey, I'm sure some of the tips will be of great help, some day, some time!

minishorts  # 11:04 PM
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Nick Usborne - Net Words, Creating High Impact Online Copy 

Title: Net Words
Author: Nick Usborne
Catagory: Web Usability
Ratings: 9/10
This is an excellent book by Nick Usborne on writing online that dissects the Internet culture and how consumers and users react towards writing on the web - the main and true source of imparting information. It teaches business sites how to add competitive advantages to their web activities by differentiating themselves with effective and ethical writing - where marketing, advertising, and where other e-commerce business activities are concerned.

I've been made aware of several elements of web usability and copyrighting that I've previously been somewhat complacent about, together with useful examples, take for example under Only Words Will Set You Apart - Great Copy Has Always Differentiated Companies:
Avis - Because we're only number two in rent-a-cars, we try harder.

It also emphasizes on how usability engineers should work closely with copyrighters to produce an awareness of considering copywriting as part of the web development process. In the same vein, he quotes Jakob Nielsen as saying -
When writing for the web, you're not only affecting the content - you're affecting the core user experience because users look at the text and headlines first. Although its important to be grammatically correct, it is also important to present the content in a manner that draws in readers.

These are just highlights that I find extremely helpful in writing my project report. Other concepts and discussions that deserve mention are - the impact and velocity of words, building customer relationships with words, the language of permission, personalization, the role of copywriting in e-commerce, thinking like a direct marketer, among others.

Verdict - Heightens web developer's awareness of how powerful words are on the Internet. A simple and easy 250-paged read with fonts that are friendly to tired eyes - but then again, it is about copywriting.

graceshu  # 9:41 PM
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Book Review Bloggers In Da House! 
We welcome Vladimir, Wena, racheal, chooki, and jenn :) And Vlad even blogged a review before I managed to come up with a decent housewarming. We've got more coming in and yeah its a good thing :) Thanks for your responses. I've also been managing the formatting of entries and am still in the process of improving how it looks. Any suggestions, please feel free to drop it here, or just drop it in the comments box.

I'll have to go bathe now. Icky.

Hi Ivan too! I posted this entry and saw his!

graceshu  # 9:35 PM
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Talon Of The Silver Hawk 

Title: Talon Of The Silver Hawk
Author: Raymond E.Feist.
Rating: 8/10
Genre: Fantasy
I've just finished reading the paperback version of this book over the weekend and this seems like a good place to put in a review for it.

Following the end of the Serpentwar, Pug the Black Sorcerer formed the Conclave of Shadows, which is also the title of the new saga that Raymond E. Feist is now writing. 'Talon Of The Silver Hawk' is the first book of this saga and it seems set to be the beginning of another great fantasy epic.

In this book, Feist shifted his attention to the Eastern Kingdoms of Midkemia and started off by introducing a new character called Kieli of the Orosini. The story follows the adventures of young Kieli - from how he became the last Orosini to how he came to be recruited into the Conclave of Shadows by Pug. Two new interesting characters introduced this epic are Pug's sons called Magnus and Caleb - the former a magician like his father and the latter a ranger trained by the elves.

Feist is back to his best and in this book, he keeps the reader in anticipation, whether it's about the role Kieli seems destined to play in the scheme of good versus evil or about how old characters from previous sagas will come into play. Even if you have not read his previous works before, you can start off with this book without feeling lost because Feist didn't make references to those works, at least not in any great detail. Always accompanying his works (except for 'Faerie Tale') you can expect political manoeuvres, magic, sword fighting, tactical battles and a touch of humour.

It was a great read and a must for fans of E. Feist. The next book for this saga is titled 'King of Foxes' and it is already out in the hardcover version.

Ivan  # 9:06 PM
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Lord of the Vampires : Vlad brought alive 
For one, I do not read many books to review at the first place, but what the heck. I understand that any form of reading material is acceptable.

The Lord of the Vampires by Jeanne Kalogridis tell the story in a diary form, just like the one in Bram Stoker's Dracula. Legends or true people from the earlier centuries were fictionized, in order, as how I think Jeanne Kalogridis' way of bringing the person alive.

The few main characters consists of Elisabeth Bathory, a true figure in the 15th century, a countess from Romania, doomed in a small cell to death, after having murdered around 650 virgins in order to bath in their blood or for own consumption. In the book, which consist few of her segment of diary, she is ( coincidentally ay?) a countess vampiress who vow to find a magic parchment in order to kill Vlad and by being the Dark Lord, she attempt to bring Vampirism up to speed in the 19th century.

It also consist of Zsuzsanna's diary, a young niece of the Dracul family, 18, young and nubile. Bathory uses her to get to Vlad, and immaculately tempt her innocence. Her silky white body, so tender, corrupted in many ways by the countess herself.

How could we forget Vlad III himself, Prince of Wallachia Bucharest, Curtea Domneasca, 28 December 1476, who has made a deal with the Dark Lord, keeping a magic parchment that make him immortal. In order to do so, they will be riddles to be solved in order to get to the next clue.

The book also consist of Abraham Van Hellsing's diary, a vampire-killer who vows to bring down Vlad, who is also his half brother.

A story within a conflicting story, characters that rises, leaving moments of confusion. A kinky sex ride, so literally narrated, I almost lost control. The greed and power hungry like the world is facing now. Most importantly, legends brought alive.

A quote from the book, "Outside, the promise of snow; the weather has turned bitter and the sky leaden, cloaking the overhead sun. Yet the air tingles, as if with unhurled lightning. It dances upon my skin."

So there you go, the first attempt ever, I might have forgotten some details along the line. Enjoy. Dinner is served.

This was originally posted by Vlad

graceshu  # 8:04 PM
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Book Selection 
Sad to say that my first book review is not even a book but a link to suggest what book(s) to read, whichbook.net. Based on a selection of 4 criterias out of 12, book recommendations will pop up based on the plots and storyline. Books can also be selected based on character, plot and settings.

You might get what you want but then again, maybe what you don't want as well. It also features selection of audio books and large prints for those hard at seeing (;p). A great way to browse through many different type of books out there with different storylines, etc. etc.

It's also interesting to note that the site is sponsored by the New Opportunites Fund that is funded by the British Lottery! How come Magnum 4D or Sports TOTO doesn't contribute something back to Malaysia's society? Tsk tsk.

Taken from Yahoo!Picks.

Post-It-Note : da owner click published before I finish editing! Hahaha! Trigger happy alrite. Also, if you scroll down among the selection, you can select explicit content. Haha! Going to do it or not? :p

Wena Tan  # 1:03 AM
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Wednesday, September 03, 2003
A Nick Usborne Teaser 
Hi, heres a quick update - Ash has joined the fold - welcome! It's been two days and I've had perhaps, four mails already - thanks for your responses. I've also mailed out a couple of invites, but I dont know if I left out any - if you're interested too - please do mail me for more information. I'll try to get back to you as soon as my schedule allows me to.

Meanwhile - I'll be posting up another book review - sometime tomorrow night. Its something on my (required) reading list for my degree project called net words by Nick Usborne so I thought I'd review it anyway. Actually I'm done with it but I'm tired and probably need to nap awhile before I numb my ass again sitting here writing yet another research paper.

Heres a quote from the book -
Bells and whistles may grab a customer's attention, but words make the sale.

Cool, eh? Wait for the book review tomorrow!

graceshu  # 11:19 PM
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Book Review: The Secret Life Of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd 

Title: The Secret Life Of Bees
Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Rating: 7.5/10
Genre: Fiction
This story is about 14 year old Lily, who's on a journey to find out about her dead mother that she killed accidentally in a freak accident when she was three.

Raised by her big black Negro nanny Rosaleen and not much from her absent father, she yearns to be taught how to tweeze her eyebrows, cross her legs, and not go for classes with clothes made in home ed classes because her father, T Ray, simply doesn't care. One day Rosaleen manages to insult a group of racists in town, gets jailed, hospitalized, and Lily rescues her and runs away from her abusive unloving father. With some clues from her mother's belongings, they then find refuge with three black bee-keeping sisters, May, June, and August, who produces Tiburon's best honey, 'The Black Madonna'.

Here in the Pink House, she learns more about beekeeping, about honey, about life, about being the only white in a house of four black women with a whacked up but comforting religion of the Black Madonna, forming strong bonds with them, and finds love with a young black man - Zach, and discovers more about her mother than she could ever imagine.

A wonderful story about bees, honey, skin color, and a girl's yearning for her mother.

graceshu  # 8:04 PM
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Welcome To The Book Review Blog - Meesh & Sharizal 
Right, I've just completed the layout and inserted comments, and welcome to meesh and sharizal, our first two contributors! Yayyy! Contribute then, my good friends :) My assignments are tearing themselves apart right now shouting for attention and I should get going now. A book review up soon perhaps.

Be patient my good friends.

graceshu  # 12:48 AM
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Tuesday, September 02, 2003
First Entry Thats Worth Celebrating With My Lice 
Hi kids, I'm graceshu and this is the first post of The Book Review Blog.

As we graduate from the paper form to the digital form, reading has always been a hobby of most bloggers, and many references and entries have been dedicated to books. This blog aims to compile book reviews of all sorts - novels, short stories, journals, magazines, of all genres, any kind of reading material at all, even pamphlets and DIY instruction booklets.

I'll be putting up a review perhaps tomorrow, when I've got my fingernail cuttings all sorted out according to weight.

If you are interested in contributing, please mail for more information.

graceshu  # 9:40 PM
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