Sunday, July 25, 2010

Honour Thyself

I've recently made a trip to Singapore and stayed in Bras Basah area. I visited the Bras Basah Complex, which is quite famous for their used books. So I went over to check Book Point, this wondeful used book shop with the most extensive collection from textbooks to fiction work. I of course looked for my favorite authors, like Cecelia Ahern and Nicholas Sparks but nothing caught my eye. I did went to the Danielle Steel section and spotted this, Honour Thyself. I know it's pretty recently published compared to her previous works on display at the shop. For $7.50 I'd say it's well spent.
Honour Thyself tells the story of Carole Berger, a well known Hollywood actress. It starts when Carole is trying to write a book and went to Paris to search for inspiration, alone. But she received a terrible misfortune, there is a terrorist attack which caused her to be rushed to the hospital. She is severe injured and is declared Jane Doe for two full weeks. Even though she is a famous movie star, the injuries made it difficult for her to be identified. Plus she is alone in Paris. Friends and families began to question her condition. Will she survive and relive her glory days?
It has a classic Steel formula, a very simple story told in a very descriptive matter, equals a heartwarming family story. A light novel perfect for a summer read.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Castle in the Sky (Laputa)

Castle in the Sky
Dir: Hayao Miyazaki

The movie started with a girl named Sheeta, who is being abducted by Colonel Muska aboard an airship. Suddenly a group of pirate led by an old lady named Dola hijacked the aircraft, looking for Sheeta. In her attempt to escape, Sheeta fell down, along with a small blue stone necklace. Pazu, a young boy miner saw Sheeta falling from the sky and witnessed her float slowly down, with the blue shining light from the stone surrounding her. Pazu decided to take care of Sheeta.
When Sheeta wakes up, she questions a drawing on Pazu's house wall. He told her that there is a legend of a floating castle called Laputa. Pazu believed such place still exist, because his father had taken a picture of the floating island, tucked in a massive swirling storm. He is determined to prove to everyone that Laputa really exists.
But, it isn't only Pazu's wish, it's Colonel Muska and Dola's wishes too. From them we know that Sheeta's blue stone came from Laputa. The blue stone owns a incredible power unimaginable, catastrophic if fallen to the wrong people.
At first, I didn't even know it is Studio Ghibli's but these animations have that significant style, only Studio Ghibli has. Their stories always seems magical but with very humane problems such as Castle in the Sky. It clearly shows human greed of power, that human can do anything to get what they want.
Oh, and it's okay to be confused at the first scenes, trust me I was too, but eventually, when the story unfold, it'll fall into place. I rarely find an animation, thrilling like this. A lot of chasing scenes, battle scenes and adventure. A true cinematic entertainment :D

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Veronika Decides To Die

Don't let the title scare you. Yes, the main character Veronika did decided to die and no, it isn't a scary, depressing novel about the insane people. This is a story about life, told from the other side of the society, the group of people we call nuts.

Veronika is a 24 year old woman from Ljubljana, Slovenia. Tired of the same routine of so-called life, one night she decided life isn't that fun to live anymore. She took sleeping pills, hoping they would off her. But her attempt failed, someone had brought her to the hospital and brought her back to life. She is now in a patient in Villete, a small privately funded psychiatric hospital. The head doctor, psychiatrist Dr. Igor told her, her action had a terrible consequence. The medication she took had damaged her heart so badly, she only have weeks to live. After her attempt to steal pills from the hospital failed, she just had to wait for what happened. What happened, changed her life forever.

I first find out about the book after watching the screen adaptation starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and David Thewlis and I was hooked. The story itself is very powering and inspiring. I think the author is delivering a message that anything can happened, where ever you are. We would thought a psychiatric hospital would be last place to find hope, but again, life is a mystery.

One thing I hate about the book is the naration about Dr. Igor's medication method. Common people like me just don't get it. So it needs to be read over and over again.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Gift

I read the book a few months ago, but I think it's Cecelia Ahern's best work, besides of course P.S. I Love You. It a a Christmas holiday novel about the true spirit of christmas: family and time.
The story starts with a turkey boy, who threw a frozen turkey to a window of a house. Officer Raphie brought him to the station. He told him about the extraordinary story of Lou.

Lou is an architect and a family man, juggling two fast paced life, but he always seems to forget the family and wanted to climb the work ladder. One day he met Gabe, a homeless man in front of his building. After having a smart conversation together, Lou decided to hire him to work in the mailroom, based of Gabe's super memory. He remembers every pair of shoes that walked in front of him. Soon, Gabe was very welcomed and accepted in the office. He works fast, almost too fast, as if he can be at two places at once. On several occasions, Gabe also saved Lou from a drunken night and drove him home. Everyone gained Gabe's trust, even Lou's wife, Ruth. Gabe gave him a pill container, he said as a gift for Lou. The gift, is the gift of time, to make up past mistakes and giving hope. The pill makes Lou be at two places at once.

Okay, the story must be very hard to understand because all of Cecelia Ahern's novel are about the magical and the unthinkable. Despite the very unusual but interesting plot, the message from the book is so good and special, filled with unexpected twist and out of this world sense. I can't say more about the story because I'd spoil the fun. It is truly a one of a kind book.
The super thing about the book is the message underneath it all. A reminder of the true meaning of Christmas, about giving, the importance of family, a strong bond of friendship, and second chances. There is always an opportunity for second chances, to make up whatever it is you miss out on life. Cherish life while you can, is what I always say.

The interesting is the character of Gabe, short for Gabriel. Maybe he's an angel, sent to a man like Lou to give him an opportunity of a life time.

It's soooo good and perfect Christmas read. Although it is very far from Christmas now, but be sure to put in on your socks Santa list!


Monday, May 31, 2010

Ordinary People

Ordinary People. It was released in 1980, directed by the awesome Robert Redford (his directorial debut--he won an Oscar for Best Director) starring Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore and Timothy Hutton. The thing that attracted me to this classic is of course the story: Conrad, who are traumatized by his brother Buck's death due to a boating accident.

The story revolves around the family's life after Buck's death. Conrad attempted suicide, probably because he blamed himself for Buck's death. He was hospitalized for four months. After his release, he was refered to psychiatrist Dr. Berger, who helped him overcome with his trauma, self-blame and understanding of the people around him. Like his mother Beth. Conrad thinks that his mother loved his brother more that she loves him and somehow doesn't connect with her. I think, Beth is still struggling on her own and pretends that everything is normal, that a horrible thing just happened and went. In the end, Conrad excepted his mother as she is.

Most people probably hate these kind of movie but I loved it. It gives me insight of what's going on behind closed door of a session. Isn't that cool? And a reminder of bad things can happen to anyone so be grateful of what you have. Bad things can make positive changes, like strengthen you or your relationship with other people.
Sometimes in life you just have to deal with the painful past. Shoving them aside and pretending that it's just any other event won't make it go away. As I always say, admitting, accepting, step to the future!

Little Bee

a story of human triumph
Again, I rely on the New York Times Bestsellers List for this one; and the fact that the cover is very cool. But appearance and performance aside, this book is phenomenal, enough said. I took a chance reading books like this and it certainly hadn't failed me.
We are greeted by Little Bee, a sixteen year old refugee from Nigeria. She is staying in a detention center in England, for entering UK illegally. She boarded a cargo ship, exporting tea to UK. Her sole intention of her journey is to find Andrew O'Rourke, whose drivers license she found back in the beach in Nigeria. After two years in the detention center, she and three other illegal refugees, walked on the England soil to find a better life and to find the O'Rourkes.
Andrew and his wife Sarah O'Rourke lived in Surrey. A couple of years ago they had gone to Nigeria for a holiday. It was where they met Little Bee and his sister Nkiruka, and the bad soldiers. It was at the time of the oli conflict in Niger Delta, where oil companies forced the locals to abandon their home and sometimes ended up in death. Little and her sister managed to escape the ruthless nature of the soldier but they met with the O'Rourkes. The soldier was about to kill the girls, they only way to avoid this is for Andrew and Sarah to cut off their middle finger.
Only one girl survived that day. She knocked on the door of the O'Rourke's family, the day of Andrew's funeral. He had hanged himself, supposedly for feeling guilty to let the other girl die.
This story is brave; told the whole situation very detailed and honest. It makes you scared for both the girls and the O'Rourkes. It was horrifying, really, to see how human greed can triumph compassion and human rights. But it is also very inspiring, how a young girl would set on a journey, to the most unfamiliar places, hoping to find a home. Little Bee had nothing in Nigeria, she lost her home, parents and sister. Going to the UK was supposed to be a hope for a better life.
In the end, Sarah took her in and they became good friends. Little Bee also befriends with Lawrance Osborn, Sarah's lover and affair and Charlie, her only son. I love the part between Sarah and Little Bee, the conversations are so powerful yet heartwarming. It's all about empowerment and how to overcome grief. But the part of the conversation I didn't like is that it's very grown up. Little Bee is just sixteen, from a non English speaking country, how can she master such degree of speaking? It makes me wonder. I don't speak like her, for sure, but I absolutely love every words she said.
Little Bee is such a bold piece of work unlike any other book I've read. I know, I didn't read many books like these but this one is going to be one of my favorites. It's very a touching human survival story, about determination and standing up for youself.
PS: I read that Nicole Kidman is going to produced and starred in Little Bee as Sarah. I swear I can hear her voice speaking the conversation. I couldn't imagine Nicole without her finger! It said that she fought very hard to buy the rights, having read the book on a flight from Australia to LA. I will definitely wait for this one! Oh, and Little Bee was released as The Other Hand in the UK so don't be confused, they're the same!


Starring Kevin Spacey and Keke Palmer, to name a few.

Mental health professionals are the people who are supposed to support the wounded. But what if they are wounded?

It tells the story of Dr. Henry Carter, a hot shot psychiatrist in L.A. whose clients includes movie stars and people from the movie business. One day he was given a pro bono case of Jena. Both Henry and Jena had lost a vital part of their lives, their loved ones. Somehow, they began to support each other.
I love the story itself, how a patient is a wake up call for her doctor. It's so good at showing how Henry is grieving by getting in drugs and not concentrating work. As well as with Jena's own grief, doing poorly in school and busted the mirror in the bathroom. There sat two very wounded people and somehow they came round.
Kevin Spacey, in my opinion, put on a terrific performance, slipping into the depressed, sad Henry Carter flawlessly. Keke Palmer also was wonderful playing the rebelous teenager Jena.
Although it used a very disturbing language, I love it anyway. Because I think it's the telling the truth about the society very honestly, that' anything can happen and the best we can do is to cope. But coping for each people may differ. In the end we shall move on. Just like Henry and Jena.

The Help

this will broaden your horizon.

After a long time reading Ahern's magical romance and Patterson's detective crime, plus several failed attempts to read classic literatures, I took a chance to buy this book, THE HELP. My only reference was the New York Times Bestsellers List, which is pretty reliable with book-buying. It isn't romance/police story, it's a drama about segregation in Mississippi. The other thing that attracted me was the cover. For your information, I do judge a book by it's cover :D. My philosophy is if the cover designer made such an effort on a book, it must me a very good book. Sometimes this belief failed me, but not with THE HELP.

Written by first time writer Kathyrn Stockett, it is the story about the lives of three different women in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960's, when the era was segregation. The first woman to tell her story is Aibileen, a colored maid for Mr. and Mrs. Leefolt and their 'baby girl' Mae Mobley. We are introduced to a maid's life in the white community, attending to the child, when her father goes to work and her mother making hair appointments. The second woman is Minny another colored, sass-mouth maid the white community and Aibileen's friend. After her master moved to a senior home, she becomes jobless. Her previous behavior has landed her in hot water and that's a bad thing for a maid who's looking for a new job. The third woman is Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan, a white university educated aspiring writer. Landing a job as cleaning columnist certainly wasn't Skeeter's intention. She wanted to do more than that, while trying so hard to fine a man to marry to make her parent's happy.
Each woman started living very different life but somehow connected. Aibileen helped Minny find another job, and Skeeter is a friend of Mrs. Elizabeth Leefolt and their 'circle' of socialites, including the dreadful Mrs. Hilly Holbrook. The three women was about to do the unthinkable to the society: persuing freedom. The books basically tells about how they live their lives, their fear, their stand for justice and human rights.

In an odd way I was so psyched to read the book, because I love books which exposed the power of women. The story is believable, I swear I gasped and frowned with anger from time to time. I have no idea what it was really back then but it sure tells how sad the segregations can be. The writer successfully captured what a colored maid and race in general would feel in times like that, where everything had to be seperated: buses, hospitals, bathrooms; and if one failed to follow orders, one can get beat up and received fatal consequences. It also showcase the irony surronding the era, where these people supposedly raising money for starving kids in Africa but treated the colored in their own hometown badly. Also the life of white ladies around that time with all the gossips, rumors and lies.

The language used also seems authentic. The Aibileen parts, the author wrote with the language used by women from the south, ain't so much paying attention to grammar. I love to play it in my mind and made up a terrible southern accent while reading Aibileen's conversations. It's very easy to read, too, not many of high level vocabulary, based on real conversations people would use.
I couldn't recommend this book enough. I adore this, one of my favorites. It shows the truth about the terrible events that took place in the past and opened our eyes with humility about the sensitive subject. It is about hope, perceverence, justice and better life. Although, the end failed my expectations but it has been a very eye opening time reading THE HELP.


PS: next book, Little Bee.