Monday, 13 July 2009

Reading Resolutions

Well, I have been reading alot and waching alot of movies but haven't been able to find time to blog any reviews. I have become very busy at work and also at home. It hasn't helped at all that I've also been very sick with a bad cough that lasted for months and progressed into pneumonia. All the meds I've been taking have made me very sleepy and tired.

Recently, due to lack of space, I had to discard books and magazines that I acquired in the past few years. I need to resolve to buy fewer books. Only buying those that I intend to reread or use as references. Hence, I resolve to revisit my local library more regularly. I still have a few purchased books to read but once I'm through with them, I'll go back to the library for my reading sustenance.

I'll try to do a quick summary of all the books and movies in the next few posts. It's more for my personal record than anything else. We've booked advance tickets for the latest Harry Potter instalment, at my son's insistence. I have high expectations for this movie and the son is also eagerly anticipating it. I hope it doesn't let us down, not that the other Harry Potter movies have ever let us down in the past.

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Sunday, 24 May 2009

Some New Books

Kinokuniya was having a 20% discount last week and I managed to grab a few new books. Lately I've been even more moody than ever and needed moody books to read.


I'm currently switching between Wastelands and Man in the Dark. I'm itching to read Let the Right One In and Graveyard Book too. I've actually started those and switching between this and that. So weird. So ADHD-like. Sometimes I wonder if I am.

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Monday, 18 May 2009

Movie Weekend: Thoughts

I watched several movies over the weekend and I shall recap some small thoughts I had:

Star Trek - this latest installment RAWKS. I'm not a Trekkie, so I don't have any knowledge of how true-to-original this movie was. I just liked the story, the cinematography, the wittiness of the script and also Captain Kirk (or rather, the hawtie who played the young Kirk). Initially I had problems with Spock. I couldn't help thinking, "Oh no, Sylar has fooled them into thinking he's Spock!" (You know, with his abilities and all, he fooled people into thinking he's Nathan and now he's Spock?) But after a while, I got over it and I found him a rather enjoyable Spock. Especially after he gets the girl. So yea, I also liked this version of Spock. :D

Starship Troopers 3 - I just chanced on this and watched it. It's actually quite entertaining, especially the script can be quite spoofy, witty and sarcastic, despite all the blood and gore. This means I've seen all 3 Starship Troopers!

Dark Knight - I don't get it , I just don't get it. The awards that went to this show I mean. Ok, it was entertaining and people are emotional due to the tragedy surrounding this movie, but still.

The Duchess - I don't like Keira Knightley, but I must admit she turned in a fine performance. I totally believed her pain and anguish, plus sympathised with her. The beautiful sets and costumes definitely helped alot too. Sad to say, I'm a sop and cried buckets at her plight, at 1am in the morning and couldn't get to sleep after all the agitation.

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Friday, 15 May 2009

Review: After Dark, Haruki Murakami

"Walk a lot; drink your water slowly."

"That's not it," he says. "Walk
slowly; drink lots of water."

"One's as good as the other, I'd say."

That's one of my favourite conversations between Mari and Takahashi, the 2 main characters in After Dark.

After Dark is book about events that take place in 1 night, between the early hours of the night and dawn.

I liked the book. I finished it quite fast actually.

But I don't feel like writing much about it.

That's all I have to say about it.

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Thursday, 14 May 2009

Thoughts on Again, My Love

I've been catching episodes of K-drama Again, My Love on KBS World every now and then. I saw the first few episodes and found the leads, Yoon Hee and Min Soo very annoying.

In particular, I was super annoyed by the way Yoon Hee (the female lead) was portrayed. It's true, the script required her to be steely and determined: Her character is supposed to be ambitious and vicious, able to hold her own against older "dragon lady", Min Soo's mother, Mdm Han, who is also the lady president of a large corporate empire. Despite that, I think Yoon Hee is also supposed to be loveable/endearing in certain ways because many people love her. Yet, I found nothing at all endearing about the way the lead actress portrayed her.

So, I stopped watching it, especially when I soon also found Min Soo too annoying. Though not as annoying as Yoon Hee. It was mostly Yoon Hee who irked me.

Recently I started watching it again at episode 20-22. I think it's nearing the end of the series and to avoid spoilers for people who might want to watch it, let's just say that the 2 lead characters are experiencing some hardships. I think viewers, in normal circumstances, would be rooting for the leads and hoping they will overcome their difficulties. However, I felt no sympathy at all, especially for the female lead! I felt she deserved to get as much hardship and "punishment" as possible, as a come-uppance to her bloody arrogance.

I feel this is a failure on the part of the lead actress, Park Ye Jin, who plays Yoon Hee. I felt she veered to much into self-righteousness in playing the character Yoon Hee. In fact, I felt more sympathy for the supposedly "evil" older dragon lady, Mdm Han, played by Choi Myeong Gil. Her portrayal of this character, Mdm Han, has many layers. I find it easier for me to accept her as a flawed human who made mistakes but is suffering from her errors, despite all her evil ways.

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Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Review: Let The Right One In

I debated watching the movie version of Let The Right One In before reading the book, which I just bought over the weekend.

In the end, curiosity won and I decided to watch the movie first, because I'm in the midst of reading After Dark by Haruki Murakami.

The film was moody and the main actors were well cast, but I suspect it doesn't delve enough into the juicy bits of the book, because I went away from the movie feeling nothing much. I wasn't drawn into the lives of the main characters nor become engaged in their problems. In fact, I just realised, I came away from the show feeling like I just finished watching a documentary!

The story is about 2 young people on the verge of adolescence, both 12 years old, coming from very different but maybe not so different circumstances. The girl is a vampire and the other a young boy who is suffering from vicious bullying in school.

Credit must be given to the cinematography, with beautiful shots and exquisite lighting. However, that is all that I found nice about the show. I think I must read the book before I express more thoughts and opinions about the movie.

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Sunday, 10 May 2009

Babylon AD and Fast & Furious 4.

Just finished watching 2 Vin Diesel movies: Babylon AD and Fast & Furious 4. Vin Diesel never fails to deliver on the brawn! Love it! He's also one of the few action men who can be tough but be a believable softy too.

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Just wanted to write about some movies I saw recently (some on the plane).

Shinjuku Incident - very entertaining. I quite liked it.
Curious Case of Benjamin Button - very nice story, but I didn't like the leads *sad*
7 Pounds - cried tonnes ... Will Smith outdid himself!
Transporter 3 - formula is getting a bit tired but I still love Jason Statham
K20: Legend of the Mask - quite entertaining. Takeshi Kaneshiro is cute but he speaks Japanese weirdly - it sounds weird to me, even though I'm not a Japanese / speak Japanese.
X-men Origins: Wolverine - Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! And lots of hot bods to boot!
Knowing - Sucks. Zzzzzz. (I didn't finish it, shhhhh).

I want to catch Star Trek and Fast & Furious 4 next.

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Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro

I stole some time during lunch to finish Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro, and I am left feeling a bit weepy and melancholic. Ugh, an unbearable mood to be in, right after lunch, in a freezing cold office. So, I had to write this review as an exorcism.

Basically, I am also feeling abit nonplussed, as I come away without a grasp of what this book is about, if there really is a "purpose" to the story.

With some books, you know right away, the writer's agenda or focus. Some others, like this one, the "meaning" is obscured. Normally, I'm not keen on fiction with an agenda. Afterall, stories are meant to be enjoyed as they are, stories of possibilities and imagination. However, I have a sense that Never Let Me Go has a larger meaning but I'm just not getting it.

I think this has to do with the heavy themes in the book: death, ethics in science, morality, the existence of a soul, etc. They linger and are hinted at. In fact they are actually central to the story but are never really addressed. Maybe that's what frustrated me. On the surface, it appeared to be simply a story about a typical love-triangle. Except, seriously folks, there isn't anything typical about the 3 people in this love story!

Never Let Me Go is told from the point of view Kathy H, who is 31 years-old reminiscing about the past. Her memories focus on the relationship between herself and 2 other people, Tommy D. and Ruth (I can't find her initial). The memories are roughly divided into 2 periods: When they were growing up in a sort of boarding school called Hailsham, and after they left Hailsham.

Hailsham is not an ordinary school, and the students there are not ordinary either. This fact becomes clearer as the story progresses with clues coming from references to "donations" and the students' lack of surnames or parents. If you'd like to read the book, I'd leave you to figure the "mystery" out yourself, although I would think, if you're like me, you'd have figured it out already, once book reviews make references to those clues I mentioned.

For me, the enjoyment of the book comes from Kazuo Ishiguro's writing, the way he phrases sentences, chooses words and creates scenes. There is such a sense of loss and longing in the book, that maybe a less melancholic soul might find it hard to finish reading it. However, I would say I enjoyed this book tremendously and would recommend it to anyone who is keen on a quiet and meditative reading material.

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Saturday, 4 April 2009

Some New Books

Okie, I wanted to be inspired, so I bought these books. I hope I read them and get all positive and enlightened ...

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There were some other books I wanted to get but I restrained myself because I wanted to feel like I was pious and wasn't a spendthrift. Maybe I could borrow them from the library? Because it seems some of these books come in a series: The Twilight Watch, The Tooth Fairy, The Keeper and The Hollow.

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Thursday, 2 April 2009

BOF: Which F4 Would You Fall For In Real Life?

This was a question we asked ourselves last night, when Pinky and I were having dinner. I joked that I'd choose Joon Pyo because he's the richest.

Today, I saw the same question asked on Lidk's blog and spent a moment thinking about it a second time. Lidk asked:

"Out of the F4, who would you most likely fall for? Not married…date or whatever, but fall for."

In real-life, I did usually fall for the guy-guy not the sensitive-guy or the suave-guy, so in real-life, it'd really either be Joon Pyo or Woo Bin. You know, the guy-guy sort of guy? Not really good at expressing himself, abit egoistic and can be sometimes so insensitive but is really caring in his own way? And is a manly-man.

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Saturday, 14 March 2009

Discoveries About My Own Weaknesses and Kim Hyun Joong

Just to be clear. I like Lee Min Ho best, as an actor and for his looks! But anyway, I was following links mindlessly and made a few disoveries about Kim Bum and Kim Hyun Joong, who I grow ever more fond of as the Boys Before Flowers series progresses.

Today's discovery: Kim Bum has dimples!

No wonder I have such a soft, soft, soft, soft spot for him. It's a subconscious thing I suppose, because I never noticed it, until I saw this photo. I always felt his smile was so cute. Guess I have a weakness for dimpled guys. This is must be the no. 937283476123873 actor/singer I like who has dimples.

Next, I also discovered Kim Hyun Joong started out as a singer with the popular group, SS501. He's got such a good voice and is such a good dancer too!

I actually didn't like him much when I first started watching Boys Before Flowers because he looked so sissy and stiff. His acting improved over time and in this talk show, he reveals how he looked for comments on how to improve his acting. Also he's really funny and candid with his comments. Apparently alot of ajuma like him! Hahaha, check out the older women in the talk show going gaga over him! LOL.

I like his candid and quirky style in real life. I think he comes across very sweet. eg. in this radio interview.

and eg. in this other talk show where he talks about love and sings in his gorgeous voice.

I actually saw this SS501 MTV of Ur Man on tv and I was very impressed with the dance choreography. I wondered how these guys could make pointing their fingers together (one of the moves in the dance) look so cool.

I didn't notice Kim Hyun Joong was in it! Apparently he is actually, and here he is practising the moves. Very nice.

So anyway, here are the 3 cute F4 boys (without Lee Min Ho) making an ad.

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Friday, 13 March 2009

Hana Yori Dango, Boys Before Flowers, Meteor Garden

Ok I admit it! I am bloody biased or blinded or whatever! I don't care! Hahaa.

I happen to think the cast for K-drama Boys Before Flowers, the Korean version of Hana Yori Dango, is the best looking compared to the Japanese and Taiwanese versions.

Lookie how cutie they all be! (Plastic surgery rumours or whatever! To hell with it all! The outcome looks so good on these guys, if they did do surgery, I'm not saying they did. I wouldn't know and it doesn't matter to me.)

I never wanted to watch the Taiwanese version, Meteor Garden, because I really hated the looks of the lead actors (*gag*). I mean, come on! There are better looking Taiwanese guys compared to these ones ... and to think this series shot them to stardom. *gag some more!*

And maybe it's the difference in era and fashion and tastes, but the Japanese cast looked soooo girlish, I couldn't stand it!!

I'm not romanticising Korean guys nor am I saying all Korean actors win hands down, but someone made a montage comparing the different cast and I think the Korean cast for this series really meet my taste.

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Thursday, 26 February 2009

Caitlin R Keirnan

Have I found an absorbing new author?

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Today I chanced upon this book (many chance happenings lately) and when I read the opening, it pulled me in so fast that I dropped The Graveyard Book and started on it right away.

Imagine that! Dropping Neil Gaiman?

I googled and she has a few other interesting-sounding titles. I think this is a potentially good author whose books I'll search for in future.

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Wednesday, 25 February 2009

K-drama: Boys Before Flowers

I chanced upon the Korean version of Boys Over Flowers (a story about the exploits of 4 rich and "beautiful" boys, aka F4) that is showing on KBS World at 9pm weekdays on Asia cable tv (not sure yet which weekdays, I don't have the Cable TV mag).

The Korean version is called Boys Before Flowers, and it's a new K-drama that's enjoying quite some success in Korea, I believe.

So far, I've watched the 3rd and 4th episode over Monday and Tuesday, and I'm so hooked on it! Must get the DVD set when it's released. I only recognise the lead actress Koo Hye Sun (fourth from left of pic above) but none of the F4 boys.

Nonetheless, the boys are pretty to look at. I personally like Lee Min Ho (centre of pic - I think he'd make a good Edward Cullen hahaha) as Goo Joon Pyo aka Domyoji Tsukasa and am particularly fond of Kim Bum (second fr left - so cute!) as So Yi Jung aka Nishikado Sojiro.

I've never read the manga nor the other drama versions, Japanese or Taiwanese, believe it or not. So I'm coming into this show with fresh eyes.

There are so many things that are wrong with this k-drama, in particular the darn hilarious perm on Lee Min Ho and the over-acting cuteness of the lead actress Koo Hye Sun.

But maybe I'm biased toward k-drama, I find it all works together quite well and the 2 episodes I saw provided me with enough laughs to draw me into the show. I'm trying to catch every episode!

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Monday, 23 February 2009

Review: 28 Weeks Later

Saw the vcd (that I bought recently) of 28 Weeks Later last night.

It's a story of events 28 weeks post 28 Days Later, where the zombies have died and people have re-entered Britain (or as hinted, repatriated back) to reconstruct it with the assistance of an almost all-American NATO force. Most of the rest of England is fenced off, while the citizens live in a protected reconstruction zone. The zombie-infection is re-introduced into the city by a stroke of stupidy and carelessness, via contact with an asymptomatic carrier of the virus, who was brought into the reconstruction zone.

28 Days Later was a great atmospheric-shocker zombie movie set in England. It was well-filmed and well-written, so I hoped the sequel, 28 Weeks Later, might be just as good. 28 Weeks Later was made by original production crew, with original director Danny Boyle playing a key role as the Executive Producer.

However, I was quite let down by 28 Weeks Later. Besides a shocking opening scene, the rest of the movie was lacking in thrills, tension and atmosphere. Not surprising that the sequel was certainly a pale comparison to the original. It might have to do with the fact that the director is different and there were so many writers for the sequel, compared to only 1 for the original.

Furthermore, I did not have any emotional connection with the lead characters, unlike in the first film, where I felt for and sympathised with almost everyone. The leads in 28 Weeks Later were played poorly by the actors (with the exception of the very excellent Robert Carlyle, who did what he could with what he was given, then couldn't do much more because he became a zombie *sigh*).

Probably, the script was badly written and badly filmed (I felt almost no build-up of tension and the supposed climactic scene was ... clinical to me). I was immensely annoyed with everyone, and felt nothing at all when they were in danger or when they died!

While it's not a bad film (by many standards, I think it exceeds alot of the Hollywood fare), I think it failed to live up to the standards set by 28 Days Later. I do not regret spending time watching this film, but I was quite disappointed by it.

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Memories of Another Day & Library List

I found a Colleen Gleason book, When Twilight Burns, in the office library today and I borrowed it.

It brings to mind that a few years ago, I won of one of her books, in a lucky draw held by Colleen Gleason herself, but I never received it. I didn't bother her to remind her to send me the book. I figured it must have gotten lost in the mail. Since then, I haven't read her books at all, but I'm aware she's a popular author.

Now that I've finished reading the Twilight series, I think I'm ready to embark on Colleen Gleason, so I"m glad I found this book in the library.

Some other books I borrowed from the library:

Haunting the Nightside, Simon R Green
Memoirs of a Novelist, Virginia Woolf
After Dark, Haruki Murakami
Hellboy - Oddest Jobs, edited by Christopher Golden

Right now I'm starting on The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. Thankfully there isn't a strict borrowing time limit (books can be freely renewed) at my office library. So I can start on the books I borrowed after I'm done with The Graveyard Book. I expect I shall finish it quite fast.

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Sunday, 22 February 2009

Review (of sorts): Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer

Well, that's it, I finished Breaking Dawn last night!

What a rush it was, but strangely, I have no thoughts about this book beyond what I wrote yesterday and from before.

Ofcourse, my feelings remain the same as those right from the start: I apologise that I was disinterested with Bella's new experiences as a "newborn" and her experiences as a "wife". I admit I was slightly impressed with Bella's innate talent/gift, and how it morphed from something passive into something powerful.

I have no right to read this Twilight series!

As usual, I was totally sold on Jacob Black, I'm glad his imprinting with Renesmee was tastefully written. I'm glad his role is so central to everything that brings goodness, happiness and peace to the Forks and Bella world.

Someone I know said she hated the ending.

Me? I am apathetic. It only makes me happy that Jacob got someone great like Renesmee. Right now, I really love to know their story. I bet there's a tonne of fan fic out there on this couple.

Now, on to my movies and k-dramas. But I got to decide on a book for commute-reading: Graveyard Book, Anathem (so huge!) or Never Let me Go?

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Saturday, 21 February 2009

Hauls and Hoarding: Just Not Enough Time!

I've been rushing through, lapping up Breaking Dawn, loving every minute of it, especially the portions written from Jacob Black's perspective. There's alot more humour in this book, it doesn't take itself too seriously, thankfully! I stayed up until 3am last night reading, but now I'm at the part where it's back to Bella's perspective and I'm slowing down.


It's frustrating me, that I don't have enough time in the day to do everything I want. I want to watch the movie and k-drama discs I bought too.

I have hoarded too much lately, due to the cheap prices at the stores. I'm tempted to take time off from work to just veg out at home and watch k-dramas and movies!

Just the other day, I was walking along and spotted a VCD sale. Cheap, for the price of less than a ticket to the cinema! So I bought a few shows that I haven't seen yet.


It's easy to be a movie and k-drama addict, going overboard hoarding all the discs! It is very cheap to get old box sets, especially if they have Chinese subtitles. My Chinese reading abilities suck, especially if it's old Chinese and not simplified Chinese, but I can't resist the cheap k-dramas. I just have to pause at certain points to read the Chinese subs if I'm not fast enough.

Here's a bunch of k-drama that I have hauled and waiting for me to watch.


Top Row L-R: Hwang Jinyi, with Chinese subs, from Poh Kim @ $4.50SG, Witch Yoo Hee with Chinese subs, from Blue Max @ $8.00SG, Il Ji Mae from TS @ $18SG.

Bottom Row L-R: Purchased from long ago, I can't even recall the prices or locations! Winter Sonata, I'm Sorry I Love You and Glass Flower.

Yes, I'm slow, I've never watched Winter Sonata at all, yet, after all this time of being a k-drama fan!

At this moment, I am still tempted to get at least 1 more k-drama, because I'm catching random episodes of Sassy Girl Chun Hyang reruns on tv. I never watched this one and it's turning out to be quite interesting. I saw it on sale at TS. I feel like just getting the dvd because I hate watching k-drama at the rate of one-episode-a-day!

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Thursday, 19 February 2009

Review: Eclipse, Stephenie Meyer

Finished Eclipse last night. Again, no synopsis from me, to avoid spoilers (if it means anything at all), just my feelings about the book.

Everyone grew up in this book, including Bella, and I think I can like her better now. I stopped getting annoyed with her first person "voice" that the book was written in. I loved the last portion written in Jacob's voice (ie. from his perspective) the most. I could identify with his feelings when he thought about running away and remaining a wolf forever. Not that I am facing love problems, just that sometimes, life ...

How can I only root for Jacob Black? No matter how idiotic he gets? Isn't this series supposed to be about Bella and Edward? Seriously, maybe I should have read Twilight. Maybe that would have helped me feel more for Bella and Edward. Yet, I like Jacob best. No matter what. How impossible of me.

Honestly, I want a story, a book about Jacob. I want more stories about the werewolves. I got quite abit of it in this book, there's more background about werewolves, vampires and individual histories of the various characters are explained a bit more in Eclipse. The other positive aspect of Eclipse is that the plot is a little more rich compared to New Moon.

Overall, Eclipse was a better read than New Moon. I'm starting on Breaking Dawn today. I need to finish the books, because I have a stack of k-drama DVDs to watch, and I just picked up some cheap movie CDs yesterday.

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Friday, 13 February 2009

Review: New Moon, Stephenie Meyer

I finished New Moon 2 nights ago and have started on Eclipse. I shall discuss my feelings about the book and leave out synopsis and details so as to avoid spoilers for those who have not yet read this book.

The first thing I must say is this: I don't think I've ever disliked a main character so much as I've disliked Bella Swan.

I must qualify that I saw the Twilight movie but didn't bother to read Twilight, the book, but went on straight to New Moon. I did this because I simply wanted to know how the rest of the story turns out. I was also keen on reading about the backstory about the werewolves and vampires.

New Moon satisfied both goals, but along the way made me feel supremely irritated by Bella. I don't like the "voice" that she's written in. She's not a bad girl, but the way she's written, I end up disliking her. I don't like the choices she makes, I don't like the way she makes those choices, and I don't like the way she behaves.

Edward Cullen was physically not around for most of this book but ofcourse his presence was always felt because everything Bella does is centred around him. What I loved was the way the story developed for Jacob Black. While I think Stephenie Meyer never meant for him to be a "hero", Jacob Black drew out most of my feelings and I cared for him the most among all the characters.

As the youngest character in the book, he seems to have behaved the best and I felt he deserved none of the shit that Bella or Edward Cullen gave him! Just because you are hurting or in love doesn't give you the license to be inconsiderate or irresponsible ... which was what I felt Bella and Edward were doing.

Anyway, as I'm reading Eclipse now, I really wish Stephenie Meyer wrote the books in a 3rd person voice, because I'm extremely annoyed to be seeing the third book unfold through Bella's eyes again.

Plot-wise, I didn't find New Moon very thrilling/suspenseful, neither was it an exciting or emotional book, but Stephenie Meyer is able to tell a simple story in an effective way. Her writing is easy to read and while nothing much is really happening (that's what I feel though others may feel differently), the pacing is fine so the reader is able to just move along and get through the story quickly.

Overall, I found New Moon to be good entertainment but I wish Stephenie Meyer made Bella a different sort of girl.

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Sunday, 8 February 2009

Snow Queen - 눈의 여왕

If The Road was the book that defined the tone of 2009 for me, then Snow Queen is likely to be the K-drama equivalent.


I finished watching it yesterday, was compelled to get the theme songs and also woke up this morning with scenes from the show running through my mind.

I can't identify what exactly affected me so much. It might be the combination of the story, cinematography, scenery, music and lead actors.

In summary, this k-drama is focussed around the lead character Han Yae Woong (acted by Hyun Bin). He is a math prodigy who lost his best friend when he was 17, in high school. Although it wasn't his fault, he felt guilty for his friend's death and ran away. Dropping out from school he spent 8 years hiding from his true identity and talents, living his life as a boxer under the name of Han Duek Ku (his best friend's boxing idol). As things unfold, he finds his true love (Kim Bo Ra, acted by Sung Yu Ri), true talents and path in life.

I shall stop trying to do a synopsis here, because like all k-drama, the storyline is kind of convoluted and what I intended to do in this post is to write about my feelings on the show.

The drama is quite slow and actually lacks many of the dramatic and sometimes unrealistic plot devices that pepper k-dramas. In fact, sometimes, I think it was only Hyun Bin's and Sung Yu Ri's pretty faces that compelled me to keep watching. They are both very expressive and beautiful to watch. While they are not passionate, the love that develops is something beautiful.

This drama seems to focus on the innocent and pure love (all the time they were together, they didn't even sleep in the same room until the end - and even then they were fully clothed, not doing anything other than sleep). The couple also only shared 3 kisses (no open mouths, no tongues either) through out the entire show.

So, what was it besides the lead actors that struck me about this show? I think it must be the ending.

I seldom like the endings in k-dramas. Many times they are very dissatisfying. This show however, ended on a beautiful and poignant note. Even though it was a hard and painful ending, I loved the thread of harsh and sad beauty.

OMG, as I'm writing this, I think I know what it is that makes this show different. It's got this note of mono no aware (物の哀れ)!!! Very bittersweet. I think that's it!

The line that says it all, are the words that Han Tae Woong said to Bo Ra. It goes something like this, "Keep your eyes open, no matter how hard it is, no matter how painful it gets, it's good to be alive, to struggle and to continue on ..."

Those were words that he used to discourage Bo Ra from suicide and the same words that she left in a message for him at the end.

The show also revealed to me how cold the Korean winter can be ... there were many scenes in the open air or in a large room (such as the open gym) where huge puffs of smoke came out of their mouths when they breathed or spoke!

I leave you with Hyun Bin's beautiful profile (I made a screen cap from the show).


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Thursday, 5 February 2009

Now Reading


It's quite fun and light reading. I bought books 2 & 3, and managed to borrow book 4 from the library.

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Friday, 23 January 2009

Books To Read

I am now reading Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine 30th Anniversary Anthology, Edited by Sheila Williams. I borrowed it from the library recently. Some stories are lame and some are quite interesting. Overall, it is engaging. Will give a proper review once I'm done with the book.

For weeks, I tried to finish reading Sepulchre but I finally put it away on Monday, as I could not bring myself to go beyond the first 1/3 of the book that I forced myself to read (with great discipline, since I paid money for it.) Although it is a light read with easy language and straight-forward narrative, the plot is slow, hasn't picked up in pace at all 1/3 into the story and it lacks a good hook. I wasn't able to get involved in the book or characters and loathed to read it. I didn't have an urge to see how the story develops at all.

I felt so sorry I bought the book instead of borrowing! Maybe it's the wrong timing, since I read it immediately after I finished The Road. Perhaps everything else pales in comparison to The Road? I feel it is the book that has defined 2009 for me. My only misgiving is that I purchased the copy with an ugly cover that features a still from the up-coming movie. I didn't expect that I would love the book so much. It would have been nice to have a copy that has a beautiful cover for keeps.

Hopefully, after a few months, I'll be light-hearted enough to want to delve into the flimsy world of Sepulchre, but right now, I will read sci-fi and the other books I picked up recently, from the library and also from the bookshop sales.

I thought I'd make a To Be Read list, including those books I purchased before Christmas and haven't gotten round to reading (all delayed due to trying to plough through Sepulchre). I intend to watch Doctor Who and Korean dramas, and read, read, read this Chinese New Year holiday. I also intend to return to more reading and watching K-dramas this year. I think my boring life needs these sorts of dramatic injections to keep me from getting too bored and shopping too much.

The To Be Read List in no order of preference (and since I'm such a bargain-hunting person, I will list the discounts I obtained when I purchased the books):

  1. New Moon (purchased at 20% discount yesterday)
  2. Eclipse (purchased at 20% discount yesterday)
  3. Breaking Dawn (borrowed from the library)
  4. Anathem (purchased at 20% discount before Christmas)
  5. The Graveyard Book (purchased at 20% discount before Christmas)
  6. Never Let Me Go (purchased with 30% discount coupon at Borders)

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Saturday, 10 January 2009

Review: The Road, Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy's book, The Road, is about a father and his young son who walk alone through a post-apocalyptic America, heading toward the coast to escape the cold northen country. Relying only on each other along the way, they scavenge for food, shelter and supplies. As they journey on, they run into trouble: they lose their things, starve, freeze, encounter scary humans, such as cannibals and savage road gangs.

That is, basically, the entire plot of the book. While there were many points of tension, there wasn't really any typical climax or crisis in the middle of the book, which the characters needed to resolve. The crisis/disaster has already happened: the world is dead, from an un-named apocalypse. One could make a deduction that it's some sort of nuclear winter that has befallen the world.

I was driven to read the book, I believe, entirely by my emotional connection with the father and son, both who remain nameless to the end: The Everyman and The Everyboy, perhaps. I just didn't want them to die or come to any harm, rooting for them all the way. Yet, all the while, I asked myself, "Why?" Why did I want them to make it? What is left for them in that dark, barren, hopeless world?

I was unable to put down the book, but while reading on the bus or in public, there were numerous times I was so close to crying and I had to stop. I'm so glad that I was reading in the privacy of my room last night, because by the time I got the end, I was bawling. Weeping uncontrollably yet, not wanting to stop, for all the heart-break and fragile love.

The book has been made into a film, similarly titled, The Road, directed by John Hillcoat and starring Viggo Mortensen as the father. Sad to say, stills from the film do not live up to how I imagined the world from the book would look like.

I suppose for the purposes of filming, there needs to be sufficient light and colour, but the stills seem to make the world look too happy, too bright, too alive, and simply too promising.

McCarthy's prose on the other hand conveyed to me an unrelenting bleak and harsh landscape, with a utter loss of hope, life and light. The silence of the broken world in The Road screamed in a single continuous harsh mono note.

The entire book was written in a third-person narrative. Conversations did not have the reported speech quotations and sometimes words not attributed to the speaker but like in a written play, you can hear the silent actors speaking the words in your mind. I felt this was a fantastic device. Combined with the detached third-person narrative, it made an extremely effective way to convey the sense of loss, loneliness and desperation.

My heart was wrenched by the relationship between the father and son. There was awful beauty in the touching way the father never ceased to protect and care for the son. Like any parent would, he wanted to shield the son from the horrors of the world, but there came a point when, like any parent would, he realised his son has to grow up. This made all the worse by the fact that the world is indeed The Horror. Where else could he turn their eyes? How could the father protect the son?

As the son grows up in the passage of their journey, one sees how he comes to accept the reality of the life he was born into. He kept asking to keep various people he meets along the way. For example a child about his age, that he spotted but lost. A dog. An old man. I didn't quite understand why he kept wanting that. And why he kept asking who else is in the world. Or where are "the good guys".

Finally when I woke up this morning, I had a thought and I realised, he was afraid he'd be alone, with the inevitability of death that he foresaw coming.

Such awful, awful sadness. Images from this book remain etched in my mind. Passages of the prose and their conversations ring on.

This is a brilliant book. I love it. It'll be one book that I will go back to reread every once in a while, perhaps bringing tears to my eyes again and again.

"He leaned his forehead on his arms crossed upon the bar handle of the cart
and coughed. He spat a bloody drool. More and more he had to stop and rest. The
boy watched him. In some other world the child would already have begun to
vacate him from his life. But he had no life other. He knew the boy lay awake in
the night and listend to hear if he were breathing." - The Road, Cormac

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Wednesday, 7 January 2009

The Road - Cormac McCarthy

After almost a year since Polar recommended me this book, I finally found it and bought it today.

Started reading it and indeed, it is very "my type" of book.

I can't stop reading it. It's truly intense.

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