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Saturday, September 13, 2003
160 Foochow Proverbs and Idioms ~ Angela Yong 

160 Foochow Proverbs
and Idioms
Angela Yong
The story on how I got this book was funny. One of Mum's friend from the US (an elderly 70 year old lady) who is a retired English school teacher. She bought this book during one of her bus trips downtown, saying that it would be an interesting. In the end, she gave it to me as I seem to find it very useful. I didn't have the heart to tell her that me, Mum and Granny were laughing our heads off from what we read in the book.

Here are some of the quotes. Meanings are taken directly from the book, grammatical errors and all. To suit the mood, of course. :p

Nu neh chuk kah,kiang moh hah
Mother remarries, children don't wear hah

Meaning : Hah means mourning clothes. When a widow remarries, her children have no more responsibility towards her. That is why most Chinese women do not remmary when their husbands die.

Siong chong nang poh ah chong ming
Get into bed, no guarantee to get up again.

Meaning : Some people die in their sleep. That is why we go to bed every night not knowing if we will get up again the next morning.

Angel Yong was born in China but had moved to Sibu, Sarawak where she was educated by missionary nuns. During the war, she married and settled down to family life in Sibu, raising her children there. One of her sons, Phillip Hii, compiled all the proverbs and idioms mentioned in the book.

Some of the proverbs inside are common everyday ones found in Mandarin. Some are, of course, from the Foochow dialect. Still, it want to read something funny, this is one book that surely does that. And yes, I'm still cracking up. It's hard to be serious when the proverbs are written in such a manner.

Hmm... think I'd better stop making fun of the book.


Wena Tan  # 12:10 PM


Thursday, September 11, 2003
Life After God By Douglas Coupland 

Title: Life After God
Author: Douglas Coupland
Genre: Fiction
When you're young, you always feel that life hasn't yet begun - that 'life' is always scheduled to begin next week, next month, after the holidays or whenever - But then, suddenly you're old and the scheduled life didn't arrive. you find yourself asking, "well then, exactly what was it I was having - that interlude - that scrambly madness - all that time I had before? - Douglas Coupland.

Coupland is a man of his own genre !!Life After God is one of the most powerful books I have ever read. Don't let the title put you off, this book is simply an amazing piece of modern literature! Coupland is the God of Generation X slackers. The soothsayer of the God-less generation.

Life After God was written in a form of random journal entries, written by a narrator for his daughter. It is a thought-provoking and beautifully haunting collection of a broken man's rare insights and dark humors. The book has no specific storyline, the narrator talked about random subjects; the chapters were short but powerful and filled with hollow wisdoms and profound insights of a man who have fallen into the void of his own mundane existence.

What really fascinates me about Douglas Coupland is his ability to be profound without troubling his readers with confusing imageries and excessive usage of BIG WORDS. He delivered his wisdoms in the most honest and straight-forward manner, unlike some writers who like to linger forever on the unnecessary aspects of their stories. In one single page, Coupland could take you through bittersweet recollections of broken dreams and silent sorrow, bring your to the edge of loneliness and pull you down with him into the hollow void of his darkest fear, break you into a thousand pieces, play with your emotions until you forget who you are, where you are, where the real 'you' begin and end... in one single page.

Well, maybe I am exaggerating. But Life After God is amazing! Should you ever come across this book in the book store, BUY IT! It's A MUST READ!

Bee  # 9:09 AM


Fang Raises Suggestion 
Here's something to discuss on, read on.
why don't you guys start a forum and a book club here? everyone agrees to read one book a month and discuss it on some kind of bulliten board or something?

it would be a lot more interactive than submitting book reviews.
fang | Email | 09.10.03 - 11:44 pm | #

fang > hmmm good idea but then again not everyone would be able to get their hands on the same book.

a review once a month would be too long too i would think.

maybe this blog is heading more towards 'hey you know this book is..' and exposing us to more stuff, diff stuff, interesting stuff, where everyone can share their views and discuss abt them.

not really sure where its headed yet but yeah thanks for that suggestion shall keep it in mind
graceshu - - | 09.11.03 - 4:45 am | #

fang > btw just another thought - your idea - that would be narrowing down to a certain genre / language / type of book each month and not everyone would be able to participate cos we all have different interests. but yeah its been done before, minishorts / chooki posted up a link here that's similar to your idea.
graceshu - - | 09.11.03 - 4:50 am | #

Any suggestions? Ideas? Opinions?

graceshu  # 7:19 AM


Tuesday, September 09, 2003
Assassin's Apprentice 

Title: Assassin's Apprentice
Author: Robin Hobb
Genre: Fantasy
"We are here, Fitz, you and I, to change the future and the world..." - The Fool

This is one of those books that tells the story from a first-person perspective - in the sense that, you put yourself in the protagonist's shoes, share the lightning sting of a sword, smell the lingering scent of his loved one, wince at the soreness and bruises from his torment, feel the effects of poison as it cruises swiftly down your veins. And boy, do you really feel for him.

Fitz Chivalry Farseer, who, as his name implies, is the illegitimate son of King-in-Waiting Prince Chivalry. Brought to the royal lands of Buckkeep at a young age, Fitz is immediately placed into the trusty hands of Stablemaster Burrich, who takes to grooming Fitz into a fine young man - making not much difference as to how he grooms his horses and hounds. However, a chance meeting with King Shrewd led to Fitz's new-found life in Buckkeep - learning herbs and poisons, stealth and vigilance, and 'conveniently doing away' with a handful of people who would become a threat to the Six Duchies - in short, Fitz is a King's assassin, at only the age of sixteen. Meanwhile, the Red Ship Raiders continue to terrorise the Six Duchies and turn their victims into Forged ones - inhuman and ruthless savages, void of emotions and memories of their loved ones that wreak havoc and turn against their families, intent on only their day-to-day survival.

There may be no dark elves or flying dragons in this book; still, magic comes in the form of the Skill - the ability of a selected few to communicate and influence each other through the mind (think of it as telepathy if you will, but it is well and truly not the same) and the Wit - which is regarded as wicked beast-magic and shunned by many.

Hobb weaves her words effortlessly, giving elaborate descriptions of places and people, which may either tire or keep you awake with its intricate details. She would take you right into the swirling depths of the Skill and the savage battles involving Forged ones. The names of characters from the royal household denotes the traits they will or have already possessed - Prince Verity, Lady Patience, Queen Desire, to name but a few.

It was very difficult for me to put this book down as soon as I started reading it - the little twists, betrayals and new developments simply keep you going. To top it off, this book is only part one of the Farseer Trilogy, preceding the second and third book, Royal Assassin and Assassin's Quest, and you would find yourself bent on getting the other two books, to which, you would eventually do so. However, fret not, because your gold pieces will not go to waste.

Strizzt  # 1:34 PM


My first Murakami 
Book cover of Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami
Title: Sputnik Sweetheart
Author: Haruki Murakami
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Haruki, that is, not Ryu. I could tell you about Ryu Murakami too, but not today, even though I actually discovered Haruki Murakami whilst looking for a particular book by Ryu. I don't know what caught my attention; maybe it was the title, maybe it was the name. Sputnik Sweetheart has another cover, but this is the cover of one that I picked off the shelves that day, and it's my preferred of the two. I liked the cover, I liked the blurb, I bought it.

Here, my memory fails me. I might have begun to read it straightaway, or maybe I didn't. But I remember munching a sandwich, sitting cross-legged on the grass at Fawkner Park, book on one knee, reading until my neck began to hurt because I hadn't moved for half an hour. When it finally occurred to me to shift my body to get rid of the pins and needles in my feet, I used an old MET ticket to mark my place, and shut the book for a while.

It was a sunny day, a bit too windy, the kind of day that reminds you summer is leaving soon before autumn comes to take its place. The park was surprisingly quiet for the lunch hour. The story of Sumire through the voice of Murakami rang in my head long after I closed its cover. I held the spine in one hand, running my fingers along the edge of the pages - I love the feel of paper, once a tree - I am a keeper of a private garden of books. And it had been a very, very long time since I'd read a book like this. Words which coax you into a state of surrender and consume you. Murakami does not daze you with fireworks, he does not put on a show to impress. Simply, he speaks to you about the life you already know and catches you off guard, and before you know it, you find yourself caught in the tide, drawn out to sea, somewhere between a Mozart symphony and a Rodin, perhaps a Dali, a poem and a lullaby.

Since then, I would seek to read a book by Haruki Murakami every book or two. I am seriously hooked. Avoid him like the plague if you wish not to succumb.

steph  # 4:21 AM


Its Been One Week 
I dont claim to have read much, although its a personal hobby of mine - time has always been a problem for most of us now (cept for required reading lists, I guess). So how did I get this idea of starting this? Well, it was inspired by this sudden flash of ingenuity (if I say so myself :D) - bloggers wrote about books and how it influenced them, and how they went, 'Y'know, I read this book the other day, and it was..." so I thought of just aggregating all these reviews into one blog and after an hour of registering with blogspot and templating and coding, it was up :)

Why blogspot? Well I do know that using other cms would be much efficient, but yeah I needed something that would be more accessible to the most amt of bloggers, else it would defeat its purpose. Yeah, its a personal project, but its also open to the public. Any book review at all - any type, any medium, any language... you get the drift.

If you've read it, review it :)

Its been a week since The Book Review Blog went live, and right now we've had 333 visits and 704 page views, 16 who signed up for the blog, and so far 9 book reviews of assorted genres & languages - erotica, fantasy, fiction, bm enid blytons, self help, and one on web usability :)

We welcome - Irene, Kherying, Strizzt, Ferith, and Steph t :) We've still got a long way to go, but yeah, thanks for all the support!

If you've been thinking about joining the community - please do mail me for more info.

graceshu  # 12:24 AM


Monday, September 08, 2003
The Penguin Book of Erotic Stories by Women 

Title: The Penguin Book of
   Erotic Stories by Women
Editors: R. G. Jones and
   A. S. Williams
Category: Fiction - Short Stories
Rating: 9/10
Not many people read short stories for fun. In our part of the world, when we talk about reading for pleasure, what comes to mind is often the novel. Now if you are a lazy person like yours truly, the short story offers that quick route to escapism - it doesn't take too much of your time and the plot is quick and less complex.

This is an anthology published by Penguin, the world famous publishing firm of literature texts. Anthologies encompass compilations of the same genre, and the title is explicit (so is the book cover). In this book there are 31 stories written with an erotic theme. The writers are all women, they come from all over the world: from Japan, to France to Botswana, Peru, Russia. They are arranged in a chronological order, dating from the 1880s to the mid 1990s, and thus, one can expect a rich and diverse collection of works by talented female writers.

Many of the writers are world reknown figures in literatire, and one of the best known short stories of this genre (which is, incidentally, one of the most studied short stories by women also) happens to be in this book. If you purchse this book, first turn to page 19 for Kate Chopin's The Storm. Read about Calixta, who is caught in a loveless marriage, as she seeks temporary asylum in the raging winds and downpour of a quick storm with her old lover while her husband and children are trapped in town. We have Katherine Mansfield and Edith Wharton as a few of the more famous names. Botswana's Bessie Head (who wrote Looking for a Rain God - that shocking story in the Form Five Literature Component) has a story here as well.

Is the language explicit?

Well, explicit enough. Not enough to give one an orgasm, if I may say that. If you want to know what it is like in an S & M parlour in Japan, read it from the eyes of an S & M whore. Amy Yamada titles it Kneel Down and Lick My Feet. This story gets a bit graphical towards the end, but nothing orgasmic, like I said. An eye-opener yes. In fact all stories are eye-openers. As you progress with the age in which each story is written, you notice that the writers get bolder and bolder. Reading the stories opens a window into the lives, the trials and tribulations of women through time, as they fight against the chains and bondages of patriachal rules and discrimination. The stories are voices of pent-up frustrations, not necessarily sexual, but more so a strong reflection of the strength of these women, and how they have gained momentum and recognition through the ages to pick up the courage and deliberation to pen down this down in the form of erotic literature.

This is no Penthouse or Playboy. This is a work of art.

Footnote: For a sampling of women's erotica, the full version of The Storm is available online here.

minishorts  # 6:39 PM


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


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


Kwality Books - The Thermodynamics Of Pizza 
I've came acrosss several interesting book titles -
Grow Your Own Hair
Ron Maclaren
Glasgow: Healthway Publications

An Essay on Silence
Michael Chater
Abbey Mills Press

The Thermodynamics of Pizza
Harold J Morowitz
New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press
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


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


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