Monday, October 27, 2008


From the book:
Claire Webster has exactly the life she planned, complete with gorgeous husband James, cosy London flat, and a great job. But just hours after the birth of their first child, the bubble bursts when James abandons her for an older woman.
With a baby she doesn’t know what to call, a wardrobe two dress sizes too small, and her self esteem at an all time low, Claire decides there is only one place she can run to, and that’s back home to Dublin.
Thankfully her family are still themselves: her father bewildered, her sisters dippy as ever, and her mother still completely incapable of cooking anything edible. Sheltered by the love of her rather quirky, but protective family Claire realises that despite her grief, ‘Life, against its better judgement, goes on’. So she lets it. And gradually she begins to get better.
So when James eventually comes scuttling back he’s in for a shock. Is there room in her life for him now? And, if she is honest, how much does she still want that ‘perfect’ life back in London?
My two cents worth:
This book has been on my shelf for more than a year now. Wanting a light read for the long weekend, I decided Watermelon would be the best option. I read the first Marian Keyes’s book ‘The Other Side of the Story’ a couple of years ago. Although I can’t remember the actual story line, I remembered that I found it funny and entertaining. I was hoping for the same outcome for Watermelon.

Unfortunately, Watermelon did not provide the same effect as the first book I read. Because James left Claire at the start of the book, the first few chapters outlined Claire’s depressive/crazy state so it wasn’t that fun to read even though it was written with humour.

Some of the character development took too long. I think there was a total of three pages or so on what Claire’s mum thought about the kids stealing alcohol from her personal collection and sort of listed out the variety of posible locations where the booze could be hidden. Big YAWN there.
Somewhere around chapter eight, I remember thinking to myself that if this book doesn’t pick up soon, I’ll probably look for my own hidden stash of booze. Thank God Adam was introduced during this chapter so at least there was some romance to keep me interested. After that the story kick started and it got a bit more interesting. The best part of the book for me was when Claire stormed down to London and dumped James. That part had a liberating, ‘Girl Power!’ type effect. (I'm all for Girl Power, although I'd like to state that I'm not the biggest Spice Girls fan)

Overall it was a light read but not as funny as I hoped it would be. Apparently, Watermelon was Keyes’s first novel, maybe that’s why it didn’t come across as great as her later works.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Quote from Oscar and the Lady in Pink

Great quote from Oscar, the ten year old main character from the book ‘Oscar and the Lady in Pink’:

“If I worried about what stupid people think, I wouldn’t have time for what intelligent people think”

Monday, October 20, 2008

Gamarjobat- Actor's Studio, 19 Oct

My friends have been raving about Gamarjobat for two years now. If you’ve never heard about them then you’ll probably have the same reaction I did when I first heard about them... “Who the *beep* is Gomajobat?” I often got the name wrong the first few times we talked about the subject like Gojomabat, Gojamobat get the idea. Anyway my friends would reply with eyes rolling like they’ve been possessed ala Emily Rose “NOT Gomajobat.... GAMARJOBAT aiyohhhhhh!” Right, I know I’m intelligent but I’ve never claimed to know EVERYTHING in the whole wide world.

Anyway off and on while we have our usual teh tarik kicks, the topic of Gamarjobat (yes I finally got the name right; had to repeat it to myself ten times in a row so that I’d remember) would come up and they would rave about how funny these Japanese duo are. I fortunately, got the chance to catch Gamarjobat on Sunday at Actors Studio and now I’m part of the ‘in’ crowd that raves about the performance whenever I get the chance. Plus I get to “aiyooooohhhhh!!!” at someone else when they get the name wrong. Sweeetttt.
Gamarjobat is an award winning performance comprising of two (cute) Japanese guys with Mohawk hair dos. They performed great sketches which includes miming and physical comedy. This year’s theme included ‘Rock and Roll Penguin’ and ‘Western’. Their performance had a laugh out loud with a slight pain in the tummy type effect.

As a silent comedy, Gamarjobat’s acts transcend culture, race and any language barrier as their movements were easily understood by everyone. The two guys were excellent and extremely funny. What I liked about them was that they engaged the audience by allowing participation. It was definitely a great show and one of the best laughter medicines to chase the onset of the Monday blues away.

My other friends who caught them before two years in a row, mentioned that the last shows were much better. It’s a pity I never caught their performance before, but I’m glad to have had a chance to see them perform last Sunday. I definitely will catch the performance again if they make an appearance next year.
By the way, was it just me or did anyone else thought that one of the performers looked like Aznil Haji Nawawi?

Oscar and the Lady in Pink

From the book:
‘My name is Oscar and I’m ten years old... They call me Egghead and I look about seven. I live in a hospital because of my cancer and I’ve never written to you because I don’t even know if you exist.’

Oscar is ill and no one, especially not his parents, will tell him what he already knows: that he is dying. Granny Rose, the oldest of the ‘lady in pink’ who visit Oscar and his fellow patients, makes friends with him. She suggests that he play a game: to pretend that each of the following twelve days is a decade of his imagined future. One day equals ten years, and every night Oscar writes a letter to God telling him about his life.
The ten letters that follow are sensitive, funny, heartbreaking and ultimately, uplifting. Oscar and the Lady in Pink is a small fable with a big heart; it will change the way you feel about death and about life.

My two cents worth:
Oscar and the Lady in Pink is a short story that revolves around a ten year old boy who is dying of cancer. As Granny Rose had suggested he wrote letters to God. His letters to God is sad yet uplifting, carrying messages on the importance of appreciating life which we often forget.
The letters carry mature messages on life that realistically it’s hard to believe it can come from a ten year old boy. However, the author’s ability to allow Oscar’s imagined future and his untimely maturity to develop with events that revolve around the hospital, reflective of how we age as normal human beings is touching.

I love what Oscar wrote in one of his last letters to God:
“I tried to explain to my parents that life was a strange present. At first we overestimate it, this present: we think we’ve been given eternal life. Afterwards, we underestimate it, we think it’s rubbish, too short, we’re almost prepared to chuck it away. In the end we realise it wasn’t a present, just a loan. So then we try to deserve it”

How true.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


From the book:
Born in the town of Sighet, Transylvania, Elie Wiesel was a teenager when he and his family were taken from their home in 1944 to the Auschwitz concentration camp, and then to Buchenwald. Night is the terrifying record of Elie Wiesel’s memories of the death of his family, the death of his own innocence, and his despair as a deeply observant Jew confronting the absolute evil of man. This new translation by his wife and the most frequent translator, Marion Wiesel, corrects important details and presents the most accurate rendering in English of Elie Wiesel’s testimony to what had happened in the camps and of his unforgettable message that this horror must never be allowed to happen again.
My two cents worth:
“NEVER SHALL I FORGET that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed.
Never shall I forget that smoke.
Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky.
Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live.
Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams into ashes.
Never shall I forget those things, even were I condemned to live as long as God Himself.

Simple yet moving words from Elie Wiesel on how the brutality at the concentration camps changed his life. The New York Times describes Night as ‘a slim volume of terrifying power’ and I absolutely agree. The harrowing account of Wiesel’s experience serves to educate us and the future generation on the importance of humanity and I strongly recommend this book to everyone.

Night is 120 pages of human history that is truly moving. Translated well with the simplest use of language yet carrying the strongest message on humanity that you read the pages with a sense of sorrow. Reading Night you can't help but question how such brutality could happen to the innocent and how humans could inflict such atrocities to another being.
An eye-opening must read.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Then We Came to the End

From the book:
They spend their days- and too many of their nights- at work. Away from friends and family, they share a stretch of stained carpets with a group of strangers they call colleagues.
There’s Chris Yop, who is clinging to his ergonomic chair; Lynn Mason, the boss, whose breast cancer everyone pretends not to talk about; Carl Garbedian, secretly taking someone else’s medication; Marcia Dwyer, whose hair is stuck in the eighties; and Benny, who’s just – well, just Benny. Amidst the boredom, redundancies, water-cooler moments, meetings, flirtations and pure rage, life is happening, to their great surprise, all around them.
Then We Came to the End is about sitting all morning next to someone you cross the road to avoid at lunch. It’s the story of your life, and mine.
My two cents worth:
Then We Came to the End’ is a story that revolves around a group of people who work together in a Chicago advertising agency during a period of downturn at the end of the 90's boom. The combination of working in an advertising agency and facing the possibility of losing their jobs brings out the best and the worst out of the characters in a hilarious manner.
Joshua Ferris’s debut novel successfully captures the essence of the modern day office environment to perfection. If you are or have worked in an office, there is no doubt in my mind that there would be a character, an incident or a statement that you can definitely relate to.
I myself connected with the book in so many different levels. The strongest connection that I felt was when Tom Mota, flipping out from being laid-off ranted:
“For all our penny-wisdom,” he said, “for all our soul-destroying slavery to habit, it is not to be doubted that all men have sublime thoughts.’ Did you hear that, Benny? Did you hear it, or do you need me to repeat it to you?” “I heard it,” Benny replied. “They never knew me,” Tom said, shaking his head and pointing up to those bastards. “They never did”

I’ve never been ‘shitcanned’ and I hope to God that I never ever will be but I hear you Tom and I get where you're coming from. Does anybody really know us? Do we really know the person sitting next to our cubicle, these people we spend more time with than our own families even? Do they know the sacrifices we make to be part of this routine madness? Do those people that you refer to as the 'bastards' up on top know or even care? It's too much to ponder on, life's too short. So I say, to hell with all of them! 'Life' is happening all around us!

That quote alone is proof of my connection to the book. I also found the book to be tremendously insightful or maybe more of a statement of my thoughts on the subject matter. To me its a true depiction of today's working world. There was definitely humour in the book but yet it was a bit of a struggle to finish. The author had deliberately used gossip and moaning as a way of escape from the daily grind and that approach was unappealing to me as a reader. Honestly, I gossip and moan from 9 to 5, Mondays to Fridays (occasionally on a Saturday and/or a Sunday) so reading about it at home seems like a bleak reminder of how sad my life really is. However, despite all the gossiping and moaning, it was worth the read when it came to the ending which brought some meaning to all the insanity.
I end this review with another quote from the book:
“Hank Neary had a quote and we told him politely to shove the quote up his ass. “When death comes, let it find me at work.”

Hank, I’m sorry to say that I agree with the rest and would also like to politely request that you shove the quote up your ass.
For more information on Joshua Ferris (who’s also quite good looking) check out the interview at

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Never Judge A Book By It's Movie

SINCE my recent realization after reading Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, I found out about another classic based movie. One of my favourites is “The Count of Monte Cristo”, the version played by James Caviezel (he does a hot Edmond Dantes by the way).

Over drinks with a friend, she tells me that he does NOT end up with Mercedes... (Thanks babe, you just shattered my happy ending). Instead he ends up with someone called Haydee... Who? What? REALLYYYYY??????

Damn the movies, now I really have to start reading ALL the classics.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Poem by Maya Angelou

I know I quote a lot from Maya Angelou but she is truly an inspirational figure. I first heard this poem read by her a couple of years back as a guest speaker on one of Oprah’s shows (yes I know, its quite Makcik to watch Oprah but I find her shows really entertaining and educational) and I loved it immediately. This is a beautiful and inspirational poem for woman of all ages, sizes, race whatever your background. Celebrate womanhood, be proud and say it out loud- ‘I’m a phenomenal woman- that’s me!’

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies,
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies,
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my steps,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman.
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breast,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
The palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


From the book:
JANE is a young New York woman who can never seem to find the right man- perhaps because of her secret obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths to her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-obsessed woman, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become more real than she ever could have imagined. Is this total immersion in a fake Austenland enough to make Jane kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?
In this addictive, charming, and compassionate story, Shannon Hale brings out the Jane Austen obsessive in all of us.
My two cents worth:
*Spoiler Alert*
HEY... let’s face it! Every woman fantasizes of THE perfect man based on a fictional character or two... (Mine’s Edward Cullen by the way. There! It’s out of the closet...phew). But when you’re so obsessed with a fictional character that no man alive can even compare, sisters we have a problem.

Jane is obsessed with Mr Darcy’s character as played by Collin Firth. When an elderly aunt finds out about the secret obsession, she left Jane a three week vacation to Austenland in her will. Pray tell, what is Austenland you may ask? It’s a place for the ‘rich’ to act out their fantasies to live, eat, sleep, talk, dress and fall in love like people from the 1800’s or more like characters from Austen’s literary work. (I say the ‘rich’ because they probably are the only ones eccentric enough to actually waste money on such a resort if it actually existed)

The book is a no brainer; go for weird holiday, meet annoying but mysterious man, hate annoying but mysterious man, annoying but mysterious man turns out to be sensitive and romantic then fall in love with sensitive and romantic man. A sure win recipe for any romance novel, well for me at least (What can I say? I’m just easy to please). Austenland is a fun read. Some parts of the book were extremely hilarious especially Jane’s efforts to play the part of a lady from the 1800’s. I found the dialogue to be simple and humorous (laughed my eyeballs out when she ‘Ya!’ like a ninja).

I love Mr Nobly because I’m just a sucker for mysterious, quiet, brooding, manly characters. The first time he was introduced in the book, I knew straight off that Mr Nobly would be the guy Jane will fall for, so no big mystery there. However, the events that unfold between the two are actually quite sweet to follow through reading till the end.

I do unfortunately find the ending a bit disappointing. Mr Nobly turned out to be one of the actors hired by Austenland to ensure consistency of the 1800’s ambiance as well as ensuring the lady vacationers feel special as and when necessary. I was hoping that Hale would actually keep the romantic fantasy alive till the end and reveal Mr Nobly as a modern day aristocrat. Maybe Hale wanted to bring reality back to the ending to balance out the fantasy of Austenland, who cares... it was a fun read with nothing to ponder on at the end.

Austenland is definitely a chick lit romance novel. Don’t expect any deep messages or unpredictable plots because there isn’t any. 'Fluffy' was how one of my friends had described it. If you feel like enjoying a silly girly fluffy romance novel, then this is one book that you can consider.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Poem from Douglas Malloch

BY Douglas Malloch as published in Dale Carnegie’s ‘How to Enjoy Your Life and Your Job’:

If you can't be a pine on the top of the hill,
Be a scrub in the valley - but be
The best little scrub by the side of the rill;
Be a bush, if you can't be a tree.

If you can't be a bush, be a bit of the grass,
And some highway happier make;
If you can't be a muskie, then just be a bass-
But the liveliest bass in the lake!

We can't all be captains, we've got to be crew,
There's something for all of us here.
There's big work to do and there's lesser to do
And the task we must do is the near.

If you cant be a highway, then just be a trail,
If you can't be the sun, be a star;
It isn't by size that you win or you fail-
Be the best of whatever you are!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Diana Krall- Live in Concert at KLCC, 2 Oct

SHE sounds better LIVE! Her CD’s really don’t give her justice!

I’m not a serious Jazz fan but when one of my girlfriends asked me to catch Diana Krall's concert with her, I said YES! LETS! I love all her rendition of oldies...
We got the RM200++ tickets which got us ‘top’ seats. By top I meant we had the top most seat and our backs were facing the wall! Diana would have looked like an ant if we continued sitting there. Luckily, our section wasn’t full so we kinda made our way down to the front just a few minutes before the starlet came out to perform. Needless to say we were happy with the change, at least now from our new seats she looked like the size of a cat... well more like a kitten really but it was all good.

She’s an excellent singer and musical performer but not much of a talker, which was ok with me seeing that she was only performing for one hour plus. I wanted her to cover as many songs as possible... it’s all about value for money ok. It was short but the type of concert that provided quality over quantity. I heard someone mentioned that the sound quality was not that great but I didn't notice it, she sounded great to me. Anyway, she didn’t carry some of her other songs that I love but I enjoyed her performance of songs like The Look of Love, I Don’t Know Enough About You and Let’s Fall In Love.
Thanks Diana, good show! Come back to Malaysia soon and if you do go to Jalan Alor again, call me. I live only two minutes away.

Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

From the book:
DR Henry Jekyll’s friends are horrified by his acquaintance with the vile and villainous Edward Hyde. Jekyll seems unable and unwilling to escape the clutches of this man, whose crimes and appetites become ever more unspeakable. But what terrible secret gives Hyde his power?
My two cents worth:

I’VE never had an interest in reading classics. Closest that I’ve read to what I consider a ‘real’ classic would be Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” and John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” (I cried buckets reading this one) and that was only because it was required reading in a short course I took in English Literature. There are so many movies made from classic books anyway, so why bother reading the actual book, right? WRONG!
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is an excellent read. It has suspense, mystery and action which I feel is better and nothing like the movie/TV versions that I’ve seen. On screen, the story is normally told from Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’s point of view but in the book the story is mostly narrated by Mr Utterson, a lawyer and a close friend of Dr Jekyll; as well as a narration from Dr Jekyll himself in the last chapter (the best part of the book really).

The book is only 88 pages long (although I read somewhere that the original book is about 200 pages or so... can someone confirm this?). It took me only one day to read this. Unlike the movies, the mystery revolving the relationship between Jekyll and Hyde is not given proper explanation until the last 20 or so pages of the book which only fuelled my suspense further. Despite knowing what the story was about, I was still consumed with the mystery of Jekyll and Hyde that puzzled Utterson and the revelation at the end of the book was worth the wait and gave the ending an absolute kick!

Robert Louis Stevenson’s style of writing is excellent. The character and plot development is great and I imagine would be hard to capture on screen word for word. Absolutely fantastic and would recommend the book over any of the movie versions any day!
Somehow this has taught me the meaning of the quote “Never judge a book by its movie” . Hmmm... Lots to catch up on, what next... Dracula? The Three Musketeers? A Tale of Two Cities?... Alamak! Banyaknya nak baca.
Related Posts with Thumbnails