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Friday, April 23, 2004
The "How&Why" Bookstore 

For More Details: Website,
Location Map: Selangor, Penang
I was at ss2 with my editor earlier this afternoon to visit this bookstore to discuss some work related issues. But while the proprietor, Kay, was attending to some customers, I took the chance to look around this place.

Before the meeting my editor briefed me about the books How&Why carry - mostly design and architecture, as well as other literature that arent usually carried in major bookstores. Browsing, I came across some Emily The Strange stuff, complete Sandman series and paraphernalia, magazines and books on advertising, design, photography, artwork, architecture, music and the like. A great source for quirky, creative, interesting, hard-to-find stuff. And no, I'm not getting paid for this ;)

There are many other non-literature items on sale too. They also carry posters, gifts items [really nice collection of artistically designed blank cds, etc], as well as a series of t-shirts from the 108 movement. I don't know how much it retails for, but its all really cool stuff ;)

This is one of the places you wouldnt mind going broke at - if you can afford it ;)

graceshu  # 9:47 PM
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Thursday, April 22, 2004
MPH Promotion On Fiction In Conjunction With The World Book Day [23/4/2004] 
Okay kids. I came across this so I can now give you accurate details of the MPH promotions on fiction and not just dig something out from my failing memory to blog abt after visiting the bookstore. I'll reproduce it here so you won't need to go around kliking. Yeah.

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20% Off Promotion For Youth2 Readers
[I think this means you have to go hunt for the 21st April article frm your Youth2 section in The Star newspaper]
In conjunction with World Book Day on April 23, MPH Bookstores is offering Youth2 readers a 20% discount on 10 book titles from April 21 to May 5.

The books are as follows:
1. Lizzie McGuire: Head over Heels (ISBN 0786846186)
2. Spy Kids Adventure # 7: Superstar Spies (ISBN 0786818050)
3. 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens Personal Workbook (ISBN 0743250982) [yawn.]
4. Kids Night In (ISBN 0007157983)
5. Scholastic Book of World Records 2004 (ISBN 0439542562)
6. Gods, Goddesses and Monsters (ISBN 0439445450) [oh the horror]
7. A Cup of Comfort for Courage (ISBN 1593370032)
8. Five Love Languages of Teenagers (ISBN 1881273393)
9. Minute Motivators for Teens (ISBN 9832349400)
10. Please Stop Laughing At Me: One Woman’s Inspirational Story (ISBN 1580628362). [this one sounds promising]

All you have to do is cut out this article and present it at any MPH Bookstores outlet nationwide for the 20% discount.

Book Donation
Want to get rid of an old book? Just donate your old fiction books at any MPH Bookstores outlet nationwide and get a 15% discount off any paperback novel when you present this article at the store. If you donate two books, you are entitled to a 15% discount on two books, and so on.

MPH Bookstores will donate the old books to a hospital. This promotion is valid from April 21to 25 and is only valid if the book donated is accepted by the store. The book must also be in reasonably good condition, not torn, not scribbled on, and not of adult content [LoL!].

School textbooks and workbooks, magazines, used puzzle and colouring books, annual horoscope books, comics, etc. will not be accepted.

Both the abovementioned offers are not valid with other offers or promotions.
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For more information, go here .

graceshu  # 1:25 AM
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Writing His Own Tale, John Ling, Age 20 
I came across an article of the very accomplished John Ling (20), who's had three books to his name. Has anyone come across any of his books?
His other short stories and books include the latest, Diamant, Closer to Heaven, the novels Brotherhood: Infinity to Zero (2001), Seven Bullets: An Anthology of Action (2002) and the new gangster thriller Time and Tide (released this year).

John creates thrilling, believable worlds of high-octane action, espionage and drama, with strong human themes of friendship, love and honour that run throughout.

“Well, if anything, I think I would call my stories ‘action-dramas’. I make an effort to create a great deal of action and thriller aspects to entertain readers. But the heart of my work really is about friendship, love and honour,” John explains. “Perhaps, in some small way, I try to reach out with an emotional message to the cynical youth these days.”
Read the reviews here. There are also a couple of other interviews on young successful entrepreneurs that might catch your interest.

graceshu  # 12:58 AM
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TBRB Book Swap Meet IV - May 2nd 2004  
Last week saw Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys and David Sedaris's Me Talk Pretty One Day being swapped over teas & kopi-o, at unofficial book swap meets.

On May 2nd, Starbucks KL Sentral will see several other books of mine up for swapping - among them -

1. Neil Gaiman's American Gods,
2. Men Who Play God, A.B.Rotor
3. Adrian Mole

Go here for more.

graceshu  # 12:24 AM
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Tuesday, April 20, 2004
MPH Warehouse Sale [21st - 26th April 2004] 
I was at the 1 Utama MPH Megastore and noticed that the World Book Day falls on April 23rd. Theres this promotion going on there for fiction coded 02 - for each purchase, the second gets 20% off the original price. Also - theres a World Book Day movie screening: Il Postino (The Postman) on the 23rd. Read the review here (scroll down).

Also read abt the MPH Warehouse Sale at the Kompleks Sukan MPPJ, with discounts up to 70%.

There's an exclusive preview for southern Bank, Direct Access credit cardmembers, MPH Readers' Circle and MPH Readers' Circle Junior members on the 21st & 22nd April 2004, and each cardmember is entitled to bring along three guests. The Warehouse Sale will be open to the public from 23 -26 April 2004.

Thats until next monday (26th April), so make plans for this weekend at least, k ;)

No I'm not getting paid for this. Though I'd appreciate donations in the form of fifteen Temakis [approx. the price of one decent novel]. Thx. Bais.

graceshu  # 3:56 PM
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Harry Potter & The Order Of The Phoenix 
I have finally finished reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Yeah, it took me forever to get the book, but I don't really mind.

The good thing about reading it so late is that I have forgotten all the brouhaha about the book. In fact, I was surprised that Sirius Black died even though the death has been discussed in so many websites before.

So, what do I think of the book? I think it could do with a bit more pace. It started out so slowly, I was tempted to skip some parts and just go straight to the ending. The pace only picked up in the final third, but even then it wasn’t that exciting.

My verdict? It's the worst book in the Harry Potter series.

Maybe Rowling was just trying too hard to impress the readers, but she ended up not impressing anyone.

I reckon if Voldemort was that desperate to get his hands on the prophecy, then he might as well just go there and get it himself. It's not as if the Aurors can stop him. Heck, they can't even stop Dumbledore, and even Dumbledore admitted that Voldemort might be too strong for him.

After all, it was so easy for his Death Eaters to infiltrate the Ministry and set up the trap for Harry and his friends. So, why can't they smuggle him inside, get the prophecy and just leave without anyone being the wiser?

Hmm.. Perhaps there are traps set especially for Voldemort? No, there weren't. Why should there be? The Ministry refuses to believe that he is still alive, so of course they won't set up traps for him. Harry came in and picked up the prophecy without any problems, so there are apparently no traps set there after all.

Even Cornelius Fudge only believed in Voldemort's existence when he saw Voldemort battling Dumbledore. It was obvious that there were no magical means employed by the Ministry to detect Voldemort's existence, so he could have just waltzed in, pick up the prophecy and slink away like a shadow in the wall.

To cover Voldemort's theft of the prophecy, the Death Eaters can just destroy the other prophecies to spread confusion as to which prophecy was taken. Easy, no? Apparently it's too hard for Rowling to even think it through.

The good thing is, the next book can only get better. Once you reach rock bottom, the only way to go is up. Right? Unless you choose to lie down there in the bottom, that is.

So, up you go, Rowling!!!

Reviewed by Khalilur

graceshu  # 3:36 PM
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Monday, April 19, 2004
The Good Earth Yet Again  
Haven't written a review in ages because ... well, tarak masa, tarak hati. Then suddenly, I read a worthy book and I feel like slashing it to pieces. Well, not because it was bad, it was very good actually, except the condition it was in was horribly ... well, the book was falling apart and I had to be so careful with it, at times I became really frustrated and felt like tearing it apart.

Anyway...

I finally managed to finish Grace's very old and fragile copy of Pearl S. Buck's gem during three hours of quiet time while my tuition student was frantically trying to beat the clock at attempting a model test paper. Not all books allow me the interest and motivation to 'gobble' them up. The language is stark yet convincing, Buck's simple narration of the life of protagonist Wang Lung is a prime example of how it is more valuable to be understandable, than bombastically impressive. The plot is engaging because it climaxes in all the right places, and the systematic but balanced development of the characters, whether minor or major, is impressive. It is obviously a well-planned book, a sure-winner that must have stood out amongst all the other contenders of the awards that it had beaten.

The Good Earth is a good book, not because it won the Pulitzer Prize, although that alone can be a good determiner of its supremacy. Whether fortunate or not, however, it fails to capture this reader. At the end of the novel, I felt merely fed, not satiated.

I suppose where the likes of Christine Suchen Lim, Catherine Lim, and our very own Shirley Geok-lin Lim (how come they all have the same surname still boggles me) have been captivating many a foreign soul with their strong depictions of what it is like to be thoroughly Asian and female, what is absorbing has ironically, become strangely stagnant amidst a topic that is overbeaten, and over-discussed. It embraces the reader, but you have read it before, if you flipped through Joss and Gold. It gives you a glimpse of the old Chinese life, but you've seen it before, if you read 'A Pair of Tickets'. Its lines describe the strength of the female suppressed, but you've pitied her before, when you cried with The Joy Luck Club.

To be fair, Buck was the first, and that deserves her the recognition and praise... but I'm not too generous because, even though Buck set the genre, the ones that came after her stroked it too hard. In that sense, when I read this book, it was a relief for the idle mind, and that was all it was. The phenomenonal genius that The Good Earth must have been in the time it was released seemed to me, lifeless and ailing.

In that sense, Buck is a dying phenomenon in what has now become a single theme too-oft talked about and emphasized, by many in her time, and in the times to come.

NB: This book was previously reviewed here.

minishorts  # 10:33 PM
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