Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Magician

The Magician by Lev Grossman

Hello, it's been a while since I wrote a revie-w,not because I haven't read since last December but simply because I didn't felt the need to share my readings, i. e. do a review. So what changed? Well this book did.It had played with my emotion so much so that I found myself laughing at times and feeling so sad at others. I will explain more later but this book made me feel excited again reading books AND telling / recommending it to others.

About the book.
The book seems similar to Harry Rotter at first. You have a teenage /young adult who got accepted to a magical school. The similarities ends there. When in Harry Potter the story ends as school ends, the part that Isee as the core of the book begins after school. So if you expected adventures where kids go around outsmarting adults like in the Rowlings like me,then you are going to be disappointed.

But the book doesn't disappoint. It later moved on and told the story of the man (boy?) after graduating, love lifes and emptiness of purpose that even plagued magicians. Just as his life was is in stagnant, he and his group came upon a powerful relic. Then they begin their adventures like in, Narnia and LOTR. As George Martin (author of Game of Thrones) said, this book pays homage to lots of classics.

What I really like...
about the book is that the story unfolds unlike your expectation. It is not to say the book is totally unpredictable, only that it has twists at the right moments. For example the protagonist did not have some uncontrollable power that somehow comes out at times of need and conveniently moves the plot, but instead he acted cowardly at times. If you are someone who hates unheroic hero like me (because face it, who wants to read about boring duds who sleep or runaway all the time) don't be. Why? Because this is a fantasy book, there's always redemption..
I mentioned earlier about love lives, and normally what follows is betrayal. What I really liked about it was that the drama actually moved me. Your experience really might differ, and even mine it I were to read it again. Anyway there were times that I felt really sad and it occurred to me that the emotions would be lost if it were turned into a movie because fantasy movies nowadays are all about shimmers and sparks. "This is why I read books!" was the thought that came to me.
Another major thing that I like about the book is there are unexpected situations that made the possibility of existence of magic seems higher since the reaction seems unscripted and real. An example was when the protagonist was to release his demon, it was such a letdown that I laughed out loud .

The Language.
The book is American but most of the words are lost to me. The words are not a' bombastic or enigmatic like say Tolkiens, but somehow the words are disorienting. After awhile I ignore words I do not know like I always do, only for this book, .at a higher rate. In other words, the language is a bit hard.

A fantasy book. Clever plots and interweawing storylines. There are some adults scenes but not so vividly described.
Overall I would recommend this book to people who have read the fantasy classics and wish them to be retold in less child - like manner.
Try it. There's even a sequel that I am going to try and get my hands on soon.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

by John Boyne. took almost 3 hours.

I bought this book after reading a preview of it in Amazon. From the snippets I gather the book was told from a child's point of view, which normally meant an interesting read. Only after I bought it did I know the book was about concentration camps and Jews, and that it had(not surprisingly) turned into a film.

The Synopsis.
The book tells about a boy who had to move with his family from Berlin because his father was relocated due to his works. As a normal boy, he rejected the transition and leaving his friends behind but things seemed to look up when he met a friend from the other side of the fence. Things began to grow clearer as their friendship unfolds.

The Language.
The book uses simple languages and it tried to replicate children's point of view(the book is told from a third person view though). Language is simple enough but like what's written on the blurb at the back of the book itself, this book is not a book for nine-years-old.

As I first picked up this book, I felt that I had returned to my childhood reading all those books by Enid Blyton or even E. Nesbits. These are the books that were written in the middle of last decade and they were stories about boys and girls going on adventures. Thus far, the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas was promising. But then I discovered that the book was set in Berlin and the similarities ends there. When I realized the book was about concentration camps and came to the word-play Out-With, I was a bit disappointed.
Then the boy met and befriended another boy from the other side of the camp, Shmuel, and began to talk about their daily lives. The book had quite a few chance to climax from here but it trudges a bit slowly onwards, without any other surprise. The only surprise came in the end and I guess the book was written just for that punch line.
Regarding the contentious plot of the book which is about concentration camps, I'd imagine myself and a few others would distance themselves from reading this if they knew it beforehand.It is a reverberating plot in books and films, that one can grow jaded. If that is not a issue and you like a book that tells a moral through innocent voice, then this book should be a great read.

It is by the way a short book and quite entertaining.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Muse: Resistance and 1984

This is not a book review.

I've just realised that this song below, resonates with 1984 written by George Orwell.(book review here)
The words seem to connect in the least, or might even be lifted off the book. Not sure and not so keen to jump back into the book and certify.

Among the phrases that reminded me of 1984:
Thought police. - just that. thought police
Is our secret save tonight, will they find our hiding place- reminds me off the characters' secret meetings.
Love is our resistance- kinda cheery. The book alludes that love is futile as resistance.

I love it when what you read, can be connected to other things.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Confessions of an Economic HiT MAN

by John Perkins. took me around a month.

Actually I read the few first chapters quite quickly but almost 90% through, I put it down and one thing after another, I only managed to pick it up back again just now, when I found out that I have less than 10 pages to the end! The rest of the book that I thought were more chapters, are actually references. I should have finished it a month ago, =.="
Well the reason I put the book down in the first place was because the book was having an impact on me. The things that it talked about, were making me thought, so I had to stop to ponder for a bit. It was not in any way because the book was boring, although it might get slightly repetitive. But hey, the book touches upon history and history, always repeats.

The Synopsis.

John Perkins is an American and was born to the middle class. After he tells the reader about his background, which is important to the book, he then relates the story of how he became an Economic Hitman. If you've never heard that term, just imagine George Soros, someone who is notoriously famous to the Malaysian. If you've never heard Soros too, never you mind because an Economic Hit Man(or for short, EHM) are people whose works are to cause a country to be so deep in debt, that they had to bow to their creditor. In this book, the United States of America, or maybe the IMF (they seem interchangable to me).
The EHM works consist of forecasting growth if a certain project is build, writing reports how dams and electricity can raise the GDPof a country, writing proposal for development plans, etcetera and I think the most important of all, they lubricate the process of approval. These EHMs bribe, threat, and sneak their way to the leaders of a country, so that the leaders or the leading elites will approve their plans and allow foreign companies(American companies such as Halliburton) to come into this country and run the 'development' plan.
If this EHM fails, the CIA will come in with their unit, known in the book as "jackals", who assassinate leaders who refuse to submit to the system.
If the jackal fails too, the last step is by war and invasion. Which what happened in Iraq.
All of these, were in the book or suggested by it.


I like reading the book. I use the word like, because it is a simple term, since the book used simple terms. It was written for a layman's reading and I think the messages came much clearer this way. There's some finance term but I tend to ignore them or they are repeated often enough that they define themselves as you continue reading.


Although the book is written in simple terms, there's a thick references pages at the end of the book. So if you are interested and want to further read, or maybe dispel the idea, about EHMs and the systems, the references with its sources at the end seems like a good place to start. For me however, it might take awhile before I read another book in this same scope of focus. I found that, what I have picked up before from reading and thinking, was true and the whole world perpetuates on a disproportionate 'equilibrium'. Make no mistakes, this book is not about conspiration theories and all those Illuminati bullocks, but it is about the system that we live in. I'll maybe blog more about what I learn from the book later. As for the book, other than a few suggestions, it hardly offers a solution to the situation it spotlighted. However like the writer said, the book is of a confessions of an Economic Hit Man, not a corrective guideline.
But hey, one can learn a lot from another's person confession, right?

Do read this book. And think.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Immortalists

 by Kyle Mills. approx 10 hours.

The reason I bought the book was because I read the preview and it had caught my interest. In the review, a top biologist researcher came home and discovered an unknown man in his house. This man then forced her to kill herself, just because someone had ordered her assisination to look as a suicide. Quite intriguing, eh?

The Synopsis.

The story then unfortunately follows a man named Richard who is also a biologist, one of the best in the field after supposedly, as the aforementioned woman biologist had died. Richard had a daughter who suffers a genetic disease where she grew old at an extremely fast rate.Racing against time, he tries to find a cure to her daughter's condition. Through certain cimcustances Richard and his wife discovered that an organization has discovered to reverse aging and in his pursue to save her daughter, they are in turn pursued by the organization itself, The Immortalists.

The book has very concise words, some that I even don't know. Actually, I had to look up most of the words. That being said, I wouldn't say the writer only uses bombastic words to impress, since they are used 'appropriately'. Cathartic, is one of the example, where a scientist threw all his research and Richard asked if he didn't save even any of the research and was answered, " No, it wouldn't be cathartic if I do that, would it?" There are a few more examples but this stuck to my mind.

This is an action packed story after all, it was not meant to be make you ponder that much, right. Still, when I stopped reading for a while, I find it hard to pick the book up again. Mainly because I don't really care what happens to the main character, he's a bit selfish you know. And the fact that he is a biology genius(really?) doesn't help.
Regarding the compact language, it was enriching to learn new words but on the other end, the book suffers since the book is made up of very short chapters. It left me wishing the writer had written more to describe the action. He leaves most of the plodding to the mind, but if most of the imagining is left to the reader, why read a book , right? At least, that's what I felt.
In the end, the book is meant for a one gulp reading, I think. Mostly recommended for a 9 hour flight maybe where the action will take you through the journey and leave you with a little more vocabulary in the end. Better than an action flick, aite.

I do however like what they did with the book, where they plastered G A T C at the top of the pages. It took me awhile to make me notice and make the connection.

Overall, okay book but not much to be remembered.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Underland Chronicles

The Underland Chronicles

written by Suzanne Collins. Approximately 4-7 hours each book.
It seems lately that I have been only reading Suzanne Collins books since the reviews are back-to-back. That is not true. I have read a few other books in between this reviews but since I have not the mood to a review, hence this state. I'll review more often in the future.

The story is about a boy who fell through a hole in his laundry room and into another whole world down under, appopriately called Underland. He then proceeds to solve quest and discover adventures in this fantasy world.
In the first book, Gregor the Overlander, the boy named Gregor discovered about his father location, who was until then had been missing for two years after his sudden disappearance. Other than that, Gregor also discovered that he is viewed as a warrior by the people of the Underland(Underlander) due to his circumstances matching an ancient prophecy.
In Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, Gregor discovered he had to go back down again in order to save the Underland, also due to a prophecy. In fact, all the books in the series deal with prophecies: Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, Gregor and the Mark of Secret, Gregor and the Code of Claw. Basically that's why I lump them altogether because the chronicle is one continuous adventure conveniently chopped into parts.

I think it's only a little bit higher than Enid Blyton's book. In other words, the language for the book is really simple. I do think the sentences structure are a bit weird and abrupt but I think they are so, because the books are meant to be short

Plot is also simple. Heroes comes, read the prophecy and then saves the day. There are other plot where the hero/reader are guessing a character real intention and such but other than that, it's pretty linear.
My main complain with the book is that it relies too much in prophecy. Problem with that is I do not believe in them and I find them annoying. There are also a lot of part where the prophecy are repeated in order to understand the 'meaning' behind them, so I end up finishing the book quite fast since I glance over those part.
Suzanne Collins did manage to make the Underland believable tho. The species(Rats, Spiders, Humans, Cockcroaches etc) are given a lot of thought and the main character are pleasing enough.

Recommendation/reading age
The book theme seems about peace and war, and how to go about it. It is something that I wouldn't think appropriate for younger teens but then again the language are a bit too easy for older teens. Since you would be preached on difficult themes, why don't you try a book with a more complex story and enriching prose?
So in the end I think this book is for adults who want to have some easy read, like me!, where a hero goes on adventure to kill bad guys, with the theme of peace and war thrown in just for zest.
An easy read. For your free time.

On a previous note, try to read Hunger games if you haven't, instead of this.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Hunger Games trilogy


written by Suzanne Collins. 17-20/2/2012
Time taken to read each book is approximately 9 hours each.

The story is about the world in the distant dystopia future, where a game is held every year, in which the contestants are pit against each other and have to fight to their death until only one survives. The trilogy focus on a young girl, Katniss, who had volunteered herself in replace of her younger sister.

Okay, so the story is a bit like Battle Royale, for those who are familiar with the japanese franchise.However from what I read of the manga Battle Royale, Hunger Games trilogy differs in the way it tells its story. It is told through the view of Katniss, the main character of the story. There's also a lot more drama and plot in this, I think. Of course there's the gory and fights but other than that I feel the trilogy has its own story to tell.

The language of the book is quite simple and the storytelling was brisk. Seldom was lyrical or lenghty prose used in the book. I think the motto of the book should be 'Straight into the action' considering how the books proceeded. It's Katniss' point of view anyway, so the simplicity fits. One thing though that seems weird to me is the book are told in present tense. I don't think it's a problem, only it seems... different than other fictions.

The plot has some twist which are pleasant enough but grows in a somewhat predictable manner. The characters are quite imbalanced I think, where some have a lot of role and parts where others rarely changed or have action but I guess that is the thing with a first person view; you can't tell things that your character don't know. The upside to that is the readers are flogged with Katniss' emotions and turmoil, which leads to my opinion that she is a very selfish person. One might disagree but I think she is so selfish and there are times that I wish that I could just crack her head open with a rock. Ops, too much opinion, haha.

Recommendation/reading age
There's almost no adult's scene. The scenes are not so gory, considering it is a book about death's game. I think the book is suitable for teens since it appeases them but still has morals such as the pain of wars etc.

Try Hunger Games first. If you like it you'll probably like the rest, Catching Fire and Mockingjay. My list of favourite is also in the mentioned sequence.

P.S. I like Cinna, Katniss's stylist. Ultracool.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


by George Orwell.
Probably took a day to read. At least I had to finish it as soon as possible. 15/2/2012

It's 1984 and the world is different than what our 1984 was. Or isn't it?

The story follows Wilson, a government worker for the Ministry of Truth in a place where United Kingdom used to exist. His job is to alter articles in old Times magazine, whenever there is an 'error', such as when the prices of a certain goods rises, he will change a part of speech from the government that says it will not rise, into it will rise.
He works like everbody else, goes to work, eats rationed food, follow the daily routines of the Ingsoc (short for english socialism) until one day he began to write a diary. A crime.

The book has complicated words( or is it confusing phrase?). Doesn't matter. By the end of it, you're not sure what you read, at least for me that is.

Recommendation/Reading age: For those who can. How do you know you can? You have to read it first. As for me, I think I can't as it was so depressing. I had to finish it so fast that in the end I skipped a few paragraphs.

I wish I can unread the book. 

But such is the truth. It is not always easy to swallow. And you cannot easily forget the taste.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I'm not Scared

by Niccolo Ammaniti
translated by Jonathan Hunt
20/12/2011 app 6-7 hours read

This book was a really good read. It kinda reminds me of To Kill a Mockingbird, which is one of my favourite book.

The book was told from a first person view of a boy, whose name is Michele. He lives in a very small town in Italy, named Acqua traverse. It all started on a hot summer day, where Michele and his friends were playing around when they found an abandoned house. Michele went through the house as a punishment for losing a race and behind the house he found a body of a boy lying in a hole on the ground. He kept it a secret but the secret was bigger than he thought.

There is not much to say about the plot without giving it away. The storyline is very smooth, although it may not seem so to other people, because the story usually describes certain feelings comparatively to an event. An example to that is when Michele told out the secret, he related an occasion where he ate too much peach and felt sick, before puking it all out, which he compared to spilling out the secret. I like this kind of storytelling a lot but I know some people who don’t like it. The story however doesn’t go off the tangent so I don’t imagine it being annoying.

Meanwhile the character acts illogically sometimes especially the children but come to think of it, children are like that most of the time. The writer managed to write and capture the feeling of a child, when the world was new. I even felt an ache when SPOILER STARTS one of the character, his best friend, Salvatore, trade him out just so that he could have a try at driving the local bully’s car.I mean, what kind of friend, does that? Just for a ride? And to add to that, Salvatore was my favourite character up to that part. SPOILER ENDS.

Words used are easy.  Pleasant reading. Quite surprised this was a translation.
Recommended for teens and above. There's a naked scene where michele's mom was fighting and tore her clothes, but nothing raunchy.

Anyway, I recommend this book.