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Friday, July 02, 2004
The Beach by Alex Garland 
This book evolves around a Thai beach paradise wrapped in secrecy, inhabited by a select group of Western backpackers.

The protagonist, Richard, is a smoking, toking, schizophrenic backpacker with a wandering imagination and a desire for action. The story shows his journey from an outsider who arrives at this beach, to when he is finally accepted as one of them, only to eventually end up alienated.

On the beach there are no taxes, traffic, or phone calls. Instead, there are fishing, gardening, cooking, carpentry and marijuana stealing duties. It looks pretty idyllic and relaxed at first, but after a while, as difficult situations arise, tension builds up in the relationships amongst the beach dwellers and the cracks start to show.

What I really like about this book, beyond the fast pace it takes, is that it shows a backpacker's state of mind. Approaching and inviting complete strangers to travel with you, the willingness to look for adventure, the necessary degree of independence. It also shows how easy it is to leave your previous life behind in a foreign environment & how friends, family, careers, studies can evaporate, and the ease that comes at embracing a new life.

Frankly, if someone told me a place like The Beach exists, I wouldn't be all too perplexed. Reading about it tempted me to hop on a boat, join some hippy retreat and leave the rest of the world behind.

If you're about to go backpacking, bring this book along. It'll be an interesting read (but hey, don't let if stop you even if you ain't gonna be backpacking).
About the reviewer: Lainie is pursuing her studies at LICT, Cyberjaya, but hails from Ipoh, Perak. Her hobbies include reading, drinking, partying, and blogging. She also writes about the antics of her interesting friends.

graceshu  # 8:45 AM


Introducing Reviewer Julianne Leow 
Julianne Leow is a young lady who doesn't mind being called a geeky skater. She's currently pursuing her lower upper-six [A-Levels equivalent] in Penang, Malaysia. Welcome, Julianne!
I had a humble beginning with books, as the first book I read was 'Goldilocks and the three bears'. It was my favourite book and I remember my Mum would read the story to me almost everyday. She was the one who ignited the love of books in me. From the coloured pages of Goldilocks, I progressed to other fairy tales and eventually to novels as I aged with my books.

It was from the introduction to Enid Blyton by my Mum that my passion for books exploded! My first Enid Blyton book was 'The O?Sullivan twins'. I enjoyed the school series immensely and my favourite mystery series was the 'Five Find Outers and their dog'. A story centered around a bunch of brilliant teenage sleuths and their dog. From Enid Blyton, I moved on to Patricia Cornwell and later to RL Stine and Christopher Pike before I discovered Stephen King.

For some time, I read only books from the horror genre but realised that there was more to the book kingdom than horror stories and it was then that I found JRR Tolkien and JK Rowling.

Nowadays, I read books from authors like JK Rowling, JRR Tolkien, Darren Shan, Patricia Cornwell, Stephen King, Douglas Adams, Roald Dahl, Anthony Horowitz and an assortment of other fiction and non-fiction books.

I'm generally more into books that centre on teens or young adults. I turn 19 this year so that should explain the obsession! (Oh yes, for more on *me* personally, *do* visit my blog! :D)
Julianne blogs here.

graceshu  # 8:32 AM


Cirque Du Freak: Darren Shan 
This is only 1 in if I'm not mistaken 12 books in the saga called 'The Saga of Darren Shan' and incidently, Cirque Du Freak is the first book. I got it online off MPH?s online bookstore and it costs only RM15.90 per copy. That can be considered cheap as generally books nowadays cost around RM30++. Oh yes, for those of you wondering, you can get the book at any other store of course! Not necesarily at MPH Online! And the book is published by Collins (an imprint of Harper Collins publications!) This is FYI, of course!

Anyway, it was quite a big venture for me to buy this one because I usually do not buy books that I've never heard of or read about before. The funny thing is, I was influenced to buy it from an article I read off Daniel Radcliffe's fansite saying that this young actor enjoys the Saga immensely. But I can?t say I regret buying it because it is quite good! The story is about a boy named Darren Shan and how his life changed because of one invitation to visit
the Cique Du Freak (which is French for the Circus of freaks). There, he found himself mesmerised with the freaks in the circus (and what weird names they have too! The Wolf Man, Alenxander Ribs, Mr Crepsley and Rhamus Twobellies are among the weirdest names) and particularly by Madam Octa (an appropriately named rare and poisonous spider owned by Mr Crepsley). One thing lead to another and the foolishness of this boy caused him and his best friend, Steve, to be caught in a trap. One that involves Steve's life or death.

There is only one who can determine the Steve's fate: Mr Crepsley. And along with his freaky name, comes a freaky nature. This person is no human but a creature of the night. A close kin to Count Dracula and a creature who only deals in blood. Fans of vampire story (or even non-fans) should find this book oddly compelling with its various twists and turns. The pace of the story is also quite fast and before you know it, you would have reached the end of the book.

I finished this book in less than a day and found myself wondering when I could get my next allowance so I could order the second book! The story is described in first person and the introduction would freak you out if you don't already know that there are no such things as vampires! The language used is quite easy to follow with no excessively flowery words or phrases, which makes it easier to turn the pages to read on.

Though I have to admit, I had quite a task reading the last 4 chapters as they were quite heart wrenching to me and the way things were described in these last pages made it even harder to read. Overall, this book explores the human emotions in depth and I would highly recommend it to readers searching for a new author and a change from the usual. And of course, fans of the horror genre should not miss the beginning to what is an undoubtedly exciting saga!

Reviewed by Julianne

graceshu  # 8:22 AM


Tax Rebate On Books? 
Correct me if I'm wrong.

I heard on the radio [Red 104.9] yesterday afternoon [about 1pm or so], something abt tax rebates being increased frm RM 500.00 to RM 1,000.00. Was it just a proposal? Or has it been officialized?

Actually it wouldn't mean anything to me as am still financially dependant on my parents. But. Yeah. Can someone help confirm this? Because I might've hallucinated the whole thing. Overdosing on caffeine does things to your ears.


Edit: It's just a proposal. Thanks, Chopin

graceshu  # 2:01 AM


Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Harry Potter's Sixth Instalment - Title Only... 
Hey kids. I'm not one of them, but here's news for you mad HP fans.
Source: TheResident
Yesterday author JK Rowling revealed the title of the sixth instalment of the popular Harry Potter series. It's called Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince.

I haven't read any of the Harry Potter books yet (though I have seen all three of the films), so I can't share much insight to the title. Rowling, however, did say that The Half Blood Prince is neither Harry nor Voldemort.

For more news...just check out the JK Rowling's official site (obviously this reminder is for non-fans, much like myself who hardly ventures there...)
Heh. Although I've read them books, I haven't even watched the Prisoner of Azkaban yet. It was either wrong! timing, wrong timing, or wrong timing. First it was school hols. Then it was watching foreign films. And just last Sunday, I ended up babysitting a couple of kids from church in Around The World in 80 Days instead.

Oh well. Maybe next time. Meanwhile, This 22 yrd old lady is going to be satisfied with watching Pink Parasols Dancing In The Rain. Awesome story, that. Oh, yeah, and sending inane texts to random contacts. And. Er. Babais.

graceshu  # 9:00 PM


Mailbag: Correspondence From John Ling, Author Of Fourteen Bullets. 
To the fine folks at Book Review Blog,

Just writing to inform you that my book 'Fourteen Bullets' has just been offered a two-year contract by Silver Lake Publishing, a well-respected science fiction and fantasy publisher based in the United States.

The contract should be officially signed soon and I am getting ready to work with an editor to polish up my manuscript for publication. Once publication happens, I will most definitely be sending Book Review Blog a review copy of Fourteen Bullets.

I want to thank everyone who has shown me tremendous support during my creative endeavors. After ten years of writing, I have finally been given the opportunity to take my hobby one step further. I can't help but feel blessed and thankful.

I don't think it is cliche to proclaim 'Malaysia Boleh', for this achievement does not belong to me alone, but to all the underdog Malaysian writers who toil hard for their craft and endure much for their passion. This one is for you.

I hope that this excellent news will be a guiding light for my fellow Malaysians out there. Let it not be said that we lack talent or creativity. On the contrary: never stop writing, never stop hoping and never stop dreaming.

As always, take care and God bless!

Best Wishes
John Ling

I've had the privilege of reading John Ling's [website, blog, biography, previous entries] manuscript of Fourteen Bullets, a collection of short stories, but not thoroughly enough to make a review on it. Anyway, I am not in any position of giving comments or criticism on writing, as have no formal background nor experience in the field of literature.

I do not know him personally, but I've chanced upon several of his pieces in with the Phases Young Writers where he had his short literary stint with a writing community of, uhm, young writers. Theres been much improvement in his writing and developement of style, but this is just from my untrained eye of observation, of course.

The management of this Book Review Blog wishes to share his joy in this recent achievement he's had, and wish him all the best in his future literary endeavors! ;)

graceshu  # 8:08 PM


Book Swap Meet V @ Starbucks KL Sentral, July 4th, 3pm 
Hey kids. The bimonthly Book Swap Meet is descending upon us. Its time for more coffee, books, talk, mindless chatter, coffee, books, etc. Mostly etcs.

Among the confirmed are aLiya, graceshu, mr. xXx, IreneQ, RyuuJin, Ted, and Adrian. Here's whats up from me.
Source: For Grabs
1. The Adrian Mole Series
2. The Crippled Tree, Han Suyin
3. Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
4. Outside Passage, Julia Scully
5. Complete Shorter Fiction, Oscar Wilde
6. The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte

1. Ryuu - The Da Vinci Code
2. Aliya - Bali Rai (un)arranged marriage
3. Aliya - Nice, Jen Sacks
4. Ted - Black & White Series, Jit Murad, Mira Mustaffa, Mahani Gunnell
5. Ted - Heroes, Karim Raslan

Looking For
1. The others from the Black & White series.
2. Anything else interesting

Go update / checkout the Wiki [Thanks http://yat.ch!] for what else will be there that day. I need to go off now. See you guys there.

graceshu  # 9:11 AM


Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Introducing Einstein 
by Joseph Schwartz , Michael McGuinness
A book on physics, socialism, politics and anti-Newtonian

when other people are reading up surgery, I found a book - Introducing Einstein, a pictorial guide with lots of physics and maths - I found myself intrigued for 2 hours at least.

I just found out that the principle of relativity is much more complex and harder to prove than the text in our Form 5 physics. Also E=MC2 bears a somewhat more shallow meaning, at the same time, the ultimate reflection of all the hoohoohaha in the principles of relativity, how we still use Newtonian equations in mechanics in our textbooks while actually it has been altered by Einstein before the WW2.

And Einstein has no direct hand in making the Atomic Bomb, much to my horror for being so ignorant till now. I am sure the E=MC2 indirectly inspired the real nuclear physicists - Curie, Fermi and Szilard to come out with creation of energy and the chain reaction. I forgot what I learnt about that.

Do you all know that Inertia is still a mystery, but a very important aspect in the argument that E=MC2 ?

Am I talking sense to you guys? Actually, I am again intrigued by all this science, after so long,... I was studying Form 6 with much pressure, that I hardly actually find relaxed joy in reading up about science.

Something must be wrong in the way they teach science in our schools, I was not inspired to take up a career in science at all other than medicine, probably had it been otherwise, I may even go all the way to be a physicists or a mathematician like Nash... and all that....

There are genius-es around, just that the environment does not promote the growth of minds....

What say you guys????

More about this book

And by the way,...especially to gracie...

Fooji - me, is pretty sorry for the lack of contribution around here,.... no, I am still reading, but all unfinised business kind of story.....
On my reading list - DaVinci Code - Dan Brown ; Rumours of Another World - Phillip Yancey, and lots of medical books and journals......

and grace, our pasarmalam meet still tak jadi! sorry...

fooji  # 5:14 PM


I'm Jeles [Forgive Me Father For I Have Sinned] 
Daphne and Eyeris both posted up an impressive list of books they've acquired in the recent [and still ongoing] book sales. I've bought myself a couple of books too, but these people are going back for more! whereas I'm too ashamed to ask my parents for more money because I'm [ahem!] getting myself a new camera already.

But. Yes. I'm sufficiently jealous. I feel greedy and am lusting for more. Even though I've hardly made a dent with my own bounty of books.

Meh. This is sad. I should've gottened a better paying temping job. Or a sugar daddy. Heh. Asif.

I cannot believe this. Literature is causing me to sin [in thoughts].

Flee from me, you devil! ^_^

graceshu  # 10:54 AM


Yann Martel - Life Of Pi 
Source: I offer two words before I begin my review of this one: Read it.

This is one of those gems you would like to have and to keep permanently. This is the kind of book that is timeless and will be enjoyed by your children and their children after.


This is the story of Piscine Molitor Patel. The young Indian boy enforced his name as Pi after getting tired of being called Pissing.

This account of a boy, cast out at sea after the ship which was meant to transport his family and their animals from Pondicherry to Canada sank; is a story not just of survival, but of faith and of love, particularly for life itself, and animals. I have learned much more about human relationships with creatures from the animal kingdom from this book than from any of the National Geographic or Discovery Channel programs I have watched
More here: Life Is Great, Book Review: Yann Martel's Life of Pi.

graceshu  # 10:31 AM


When Do You Read? 
I took the lead from eyeris in this entry.
Anyway, listed here are the occasions where I manage to get the most reading done - in order of frequency and number of books finished while in that particular situation:

1) Waiting in the bank/restaurant/post office/LRT station/mechanic etc...
2) While on the LRT (much more productive than just staring into space like most commuters do)
3) Sitting on the toilet (For decency's sake, I shall not elaborate further)
4) When stuck in snail-paced traffic jams (kids, don't try this at home)
5) While 'lepaking' in coffee joints or eating dinner(instead of just sitting down and eating, I READ while eating, especially when I'm alone. Makes for quite a number of coffee and curry stains on my books though)
6) Dedicated book-reading marathons into the wee hours of the night (usually conducted when I absolutely HAVE to finish a book or I wouldn't be able to sleep)
As for me, leisurely reading is usually conducted during lunch hours or between errands, or during working hours [shhh]. I do however leave the occasional book inside my tote when I head out to pretentious coffee places when my inner sophistikashyun cries out [Cries out!]; or when I stop by at parks while I sneak glances at passing joggers ["As we approached Adumpur, I began to..." Whoa! look at those calves!].

Having coffee while reading isn't exactly a pleasant experience though. It sometimes makes me extremely jittery [I always have more caffeine in my system than I can handle], and I am not able to concentrate. I usually end up making faces at random kids [;D!! D;!! ^_^!! -_-!! etc.], watching people [flicking cigarette ash artfully] or talking to strangers [Hi[gh]. Theres a fly in your trousers, sir.].

I usually go for hot tea, with a slice of something to go with it. Or just leave my digestive system alone, channelling the much needed blood flow to my poor unisel brain instead. :(

However, most of my reading is done in the comfort of my own home. Usually by my bedroom window or beside the french windows, I prefer natural light :)

Bookstores are rather impersonal, crowded, and cold, but my discomfort usually fades away as I get to them beautiful and orgasmik plots. It is also relatively inexpensive [free! heh] to read in bookstores. I usually head out to shopping malls a couple of hours earlier to grab my movie ticket, then browse at the bookstores, get a book, sit down and read until its time for popcorn fun.

I've also read in the tub, read in the rain, up a tree, sprawled on the grass, by the beach, on a hill, in hospital wards, in hospital bathrooms, read into the sunset, inside empty cupboards [don't ask], and when I was much younger and engrossed with various Enid Blytons / Nancy Drews / etc. - while walking to the nearby grocery store.

What about you - when / where do you read?

graceshu  # 9:13 AM