Friday, November 29, 2013

Have you been to the book sales?

If you are in Kuching, you might be aware that there's a sales going on in one of the malls.  It is actually a book sales and to be more specific, it is a book sales of pre-read book.   Termed 'Books Second Time Around', the books are all second hand or books that have been read that were shipped directly from the United States or Canada.  I rather called them pre-read books.

Held from 16th November to 8th December in Hills Shopping Mall, you can say the fact that it's a sales certainly added a lot of excitement to folks here whether they read or not.  From the young to the old, there's something for everyone. All you need is time to browse around. I especially love to read the inscriptions on some of the books especially inscriptions of love and well wishes in the children's books. :)

While this sales is very visible in terms of promotions and locations, there is also another book sales in town that's rather quiet and less well known in everywhere possible.  Called 'The Hunt', it is organised by a local bookstore, Smart Bookshops.

Held in Hock Lee Centre (a less well known mall in town), it will run from 1st to 30th November 2013.  While the books at Hills are second hand books, the books here are all new books.  They are also sold around the same price as the pre-read books. 

From the labels, I get to know that the bookstore must have got the books from a certain wolf based in Klang Valley that's rather well known for their annual book sales.  For this year, the sales will be next week somewhere in Klang Valley so this might be the balance from their previous sales?  Honestly, I dont' see many interesting titles and the fact that the books were not properly arranged certainly did not add any appeal to buyers.

So, I guess this would be a good time for readers in here with the many options that's available currently.

Happy book shopping. Do you want to know what I bought? :)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Midnight Country by Michael Mullen

Synopsis :

The epic story of three sisters and their turbulent lives, tied to the destinies of Germany, Austria and Russia in the unstable years leading up to World War I.

It is midnight, New Year's Eve 1900, and three women gaze out over the rooftops of snowy Vienna, contemplating the promise of a golden future.  The dawn of a new century and the glittering Emperor's ball await them, enough to fulfill any young lady's dreams of social success..

But Sophie, Alma and Marie Schmerling have ambitions that will take them far beyond the samll intrigues af Viennese society.  The winter snows of St Petersburg, the brash cafes of prosperous Berlin, they want all the vast and thriving empire has to offer.  

I think I get what the author was trying to convey through the title - The Midnight Country after reading the book.  To keep it simple, it's story of ending of empires, of way of life and social culture and the dawn of a new era for and I guess midnight best represents all that...the ending of a day and the beginning of another.

The story centred around the three sisters, Sophie, Alma and Marie Schmerling.  We also see changes happening in the word through their stepfather, Joseph Steiner, a very rich Jew.  We also witness the political turmoil across European countries....Austria, Germany and Russia, in particular.  All sisters have quite equal start but went on different path.  Sophie's a rather savy business woman and rather industrious.  Alma decided on life of a royalty at great expense while Marie walked the life of a revolutionary.

The author draws on the great historical  happening during that era and famous figures such as the Tsar, Rasputin and Lenin were part of the storyline so it's rather a mis-mash of facts and fictions. 

It was quite a good book with plots that brings reader back to the turn of the century and the years leading up to the first world war.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Successful Sales - Sept & Oct 2013

It was yet another successful sales at the September flea market.  It wasn't as good as July but it was good enough and I am thankful in so many ways.

First to go was my favourite Angels Fall.  There seems to be a lot of Nora Robert's fans out there but then she does write good books.  I am sure Angels Fall has found a wonderful new owner.  Another lady took a liking to Echoes and Irresistable Force by Danielle Steele. Finally they are out of my hands! 

Lovers and Players, Chapatti or Chips and Man and Boy are among the books that went to new owners over the two days.  So did Memiors of A Geisha which I decided to put for sales at the market after some consideration.  I read the book many, many years ago and was thinking of re-reading it for a review but then, I don't think it will make it to my to-read list anytime soon so might as well say a quick good bye.

I also managed to sell off some of my fantasy collection like the series of Ways of The Kings, Ship of Magics, The Redemption of Athalus among others.

Came October and the mall management decided to hold another flea market and I was rather glad to be invited to take part again. :)

This time round, I sold off A Bend in Road, Mafia Princess  and Sing You Home among others.  It was a good feeling when the girl who bought Mafia Princess the day before told me that her mum read through the book the minute she brought it home and enjoyed it very much. 

Surprisingly, one lady decided to buy all my Readers Digest from the 70s. There were about 12 copies and she took all.  Have fun, lady, going down memory land. :)

A fan of James Patterson took back my Four Blind Mice and I managed to recommend Split Second to another fan of thriller.

All in all, it was another good sales.  :)  Can't wait for the next one.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

Synopsis (from goodreads) :

One miscarriage too many spelled the end of Max and Zoe Baxter's marriage. Though the former couple went quite separate ways, their fates remained entangled: After veering into alcoholism, Max is saved in multiple senses by his fundamentalist conversion; Zoe, for her part, finds healing relief in music therapy and the friendship, then romantic love with Vanessa, her counselor. 

After Zoe and Vanessa, now married, decide to have a baby, they realize that they must join battle with Max, who objects on both religious and financial grounds. 

Like her House Rules and several other previous Jodi Picoult novels, Sing You Home grapples with hot button issues. The novel also includes a CD of songs, each matched with a chapter in the book. Perfect for book clubs

My impression of Jodi Picoult was rather good after Change of Heart.  Such, I have high expectation from Sing You Home.  I shouldn't have.  It was quite a let down.  I must admit that it wasn't actually that bad a book, it's actually quite enlightening but I just don't like it.

Sing You Home pitted Christianity against the gay movement and in particular against same sex parents.  Zoe and her husband divorced after a failed pregnancy.  Zoe then hooked up with Vanessa, a school counselor and decided that they are in love and decided to get 'married' and subsequently wanted to start a family using frozen embroys from the time she tried to get pregnant with ex-husband Max.  However, Max has as much right to these embroys as Zoe and has his own plans for them.

A court battle then starts and issues (in my opinion) begins to brew out of propotion.

While I applaud Jodi Picoult for daring to write about controversial issues, I didn't think she did a good job with this one.  I didn't like Zoe nor Max nor Vanessa. Everyone was just too self centered and selfish in their own ways.

Having said that you will still like the book if you are a fan of Jodi Picoult.  For non fans, do try her other books first.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

White Oleander by Janet Fitch (Semi Review)

Synopsis :

Everywhere hailed as a novel of rare beauty and power, White Oleander tells the unforgettable story of Ingrid, a brilliant poet imprisoned for murder and her daughter, Astrid, whose odyssey through a series of foster homes - each its own universe, with its own laws, its own dangers, its own hard lessons to be learned - becomes a redeeming and surprising journey of self-discovery.

I have never done a what I termed, a 'semi-review' before.  This is not a full review as in I didn't read the whole book.  I just did enough research and read part of it to get a feel of how the book would be like and to know the plot and development of the story.

The reason why I didn't want to read it is because it's another coming of age book and while I have nothing against the topic I don't think I can deal with another coming of age book as I just read one recently.

White Oleander is as much the story of a girl called Astrid (quite a beautiful name) and her mother, Ingrid.  Generally, I think it is a nicely written book but I also think that it's a rather depression subject matter and disturbing at certain point and it's just not a book that I wish to read about at this time.

There is something poingnantly  beautiful about the way the book is written.  I was captivated by the way Janet writes and I won't mind reading this book in the future or perhaps her other titles just to experience her writing style.

This book was selected by Oprah's Book Club in year 1999 and three years later, a feature film with the same title was released.  It stars Michelle Pfeiffer, Alison Lohman and Renee Zellweger.

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks

Synopsis :

Miles Ryan's life seemed to end the day his wife was killed in a hit-and-run accident two years ago.  As deputy sheriff of New Bern, North Carolina, he not only grieves for her and worries about their young son Jonah but longs to bring the unknown driver to justice.  Then Miles meets Sarah Andrews, Jonah's second-grade teacher.  A young woman recovering from a difficult divorce, Sarah moved to New Bern hoping to start over. 

Tentatively, Miles and Sarah reach out to each other...son they are falling in love. But what neither realizes is that they are also bound together by a shocking secret, one that will force them to reexamine everything they believe in - including their love.

When I posted that I am reading this book on FB, my well-read niece commented that it was a nice book.  That comment motivated me as I wasn't very sure at that time whether it would be good as I have some hit and misses with Nicholas Sparks in previous encounters.

This time round, unfortunately, it's more misses than hits,

While I don't dislike A Bend in the Road, I don't love it either.  It was a rather sweet story of two people drawn together.  However, its two people with much baggage and unfortunately one of the baggages came back and caused a rift in their relationship that might not stand the weight of it.

I don't like Miles Ryan.  He's so driven by guilt that he doesn't see the good thing that's in front of him.  He's rather a neglected dad to his cute son, Jonah who's just eight and also suffering from losing his mum.  He was quick to put the blame on one convenient person for his wife's death.

Sarah Andrew on the other hand seems to be rather weak and just let Miles stepped all over her, in quite similar fashion to her ex-husband although in a different context.  I wish she has a bit of guts in her.  Maybe you would say she did as what she did in the end to reveal the truth to Miles wasn't easy.

Having said all that, it wasn't that bad and pretty readable. Maybe I just have high expectation and if the author is someone unknown, I might say that it's a wonderful book.  Maybe I'm just in a cranky mood.