Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Railway Children, Usborne Young Reading Series

Author: E.Nesbit and Illustration by Alan Marks
Genre: Children's Classic
Reading Level: Ages 9-12

This is a retelling of E.Nesbit's classic children's story The Railway Children. Bobbie, Peter and Phyllis's life is transformed overnight when their father is mysteriously taken away. Forced to leave the city, the children embark on a variety of adventures in the surroundings of their new home. 

I've never read the actual book by E.Nesbit but I think the Usborne Young Reading Series provides a great introduction to the classic children's book. It's simple to read with only 60 pages filled with colourful pictures and easy to read text. I enjoyed reading this to pass my time at the bookstore. The Usborne Young Reading Series has a variety of titles to choose from and I think it makes quite a good collection to read to kids.

Travel: Koh Lipe, Thailand

I'm currently in between jobs and have taken about a week or so off before I start my new job on the 1st of Feb. So with some time to spare hubs and I decided to take a short trip to Koh Lipe, Thailand for our belated honeymoon. It's a beautiful island and I felt that it would not bring justice if I didn't brag a little about my trip :) 

We started from Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi by flight and then moved on to Telaga Harbour in Langkawi to take a speed boat to Koh Lipe. The website stated that the boat ride is estimated to be about 70 minutes but it actually took about 45 mins to an hour only to reach our destination. 

Koh Lipe is a very small island with three main beaches. It takes only about 15 to 20 mins to walk across from one end of the island to the other, that's how small it is. We arrived at Pattaya beach which is the main beach on the island. There is no jetty for the speed boat so you'll get a little wet trying to get to shore. The immigration is just a small hut by the beach side which also acts as the main office for the company providing the speed boat service.  

Once we had our passports sorted, we decided to take the taxi boat or long tail boat to our resort. You can opt to walk or take a motorbike as well but we kinda liked the taxi boat and decided to travel on water to our resort.

Hubs and I stayed at a fairly new and a very, very beautiful resort called Idyllic Concept Resort located on Sunrise Beach. Our room though indirectly facing the ocean still had an awesome view.
On the first day we arrived, we decided to chill by the beach. At night we walked out for dinner on the village stretch and had the best Tom Yum Goong ever at this restaurant called Konlae. The village road leads to Pattaya Beach which is the commercialized section of the island. There is a lot of food and small shops on the village road but if you're a shopping addict, Lipe Island is not for you. Though you should check out this shop on the Village stretch called Rainforest, it's my favourite shop on the island. 


We also enjoyed eating at a Thai Pancake Shop which had a delicious variety of deserts. It's one of the more popular spots to eat and hang out on the island. There is a variety of restaurants in Lipe with seafood buffets ranging from 100 baht and above but unfortunately we were not able to try out every restaurant seeing that we were there for only a short time. 

I absolutely love, love, love beach holidays but can you believe that I can't swim and I am terrified of the water? I normally waddle by the beach and never go deeper than below my shoulder line. Koh Lipe was different though, the water was so clear and beautiful that I managed to do a quick snorkelling exercise with hubs and we also went kayaking at the surrounding islands fronting our beach. It was just so beautiful. 

You should also check out the sunset. We were asked to go to Sunset Beach to catch the sunset but decided to take the long boat around the island instead. It's only about 300 baht to go around the island and trust me it's worth it. 

Hubs and I absolutely love Koh Lipe and we love the people there. The locals are really friendly and some of them can speak Malaysian (well with a strong Kedahan type accent). It's a popular spot for Europeans and hubs and I would play 'Guess which country they're from?' based on the language they spoke... :P

We enjoyed every second of the day at Koh Lipe and though we were there for four days and three nights, it just was not enough. Hopefully, we'll get to visit Koh Lipe again at the end of the year.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Brother's Ghost

Author: Allan Ahlberg
Genre: Historical Fiction
Reading Level: Ages 9-12

Frances Fogarty recollects her childhood memories after the death of her eldest brother, Tom. Set in the 1950's, My Brother's Ghost is a touching tale of loss, love and endurance during the worst of times. 

One of the reasons why I picked up this book was because of the title and the cover. I'm not sorry I picked it up. I absolutely love this book. It's beautiful, touching and more importantly; it made me cry! My Brother's Ghost took me about half an hour to read, it's a pretty easy read though I'm not sure if it's easy enough for the intended target audience. If you would like to read this, I suggest you have your tissue box on the ready. An excellent book and highly recommended. 

Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenges

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Comical Tragedy or Tragical Comedy of Mr Punch

Author: Neil Gaiman and illustrations by Dave McKean
Genre: Graphic/Visual Novel 

The Comical Tragedy or Tragical Comedy of Mr Punch is a graphic novel that I stumbled upon at the bookstore which I decided to pick up and read because it was written by Neil Gaiman. Recollecting his childhood memories during a brief stay at his grandfather's seaside arcade, the unnamed character of the book tells a dark story filled with fear, betrayal and a possible murder.  

The graphic novel though a short and quick read is to me, quite a difficult book to enjoy. The novel is dark and morbid and the artwork used is not something I preferred. It did however add a dark feel to the overall reading experience. At times, I found the book hard to read and it's not just the font size of the text but the storyline itself was quite confusing to me. You can call me dense but unfortunately I didn't understand the storyline nor did I enjoy reading this book. I'm a big fan of Neil Gaiman's work and have read a couple of his books but sad to say this is my least favourite from his collection.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hush Hush

Genre: Fiction (Paranormal/Romance)
Reading Level: Young Adult

Hush Hush is a young adult paranormal/romance novel revolving around Nora Gray; a smart and responsible daughter and student who does everything by the book. Being the goody two shoes that she is, romance is of course far from her mind... that is until she meets Patch. She is attracted to him but feels that he is dangerous and could possibly be the cause of all the bad things that has been happening to her of late. Now she is beginning to wonder about Patch and who he is exactly.  

First off, I absolutely love the cover. I think it's uber sexy. Secondly, the teenager in me fell for the 'good girl falls for bad boy' formula...yeah... i know...SUCKER! I honestly love the flirtatious interaction between Nora and Patch and thought it was the best part of the book.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Hush Hush but as much as I enjoyed reading the book, I felt that the mysterious plot revealed itself too late in the book which made me lose interest just for a little while. Plus the heated romance between Patch and Nora can be a bit over the top to read after a while. There was a lot of sexual tension between the two and am not even sure if it's appropriate for the books intended target audience to read (sheesh, can't believe I actually said that! I'm beginning to sound like my mother!).

It was a fun read if you don't look too much into the details cause you will notice a few flaws here and there. Would I recommend it? Yes, especially to those who love falling for bad boys! (If you love Twilight, I think you will love this book). 

Anyway here's a trailer of the book for those who have not read it yet:

Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenges, Young Adult Challenges

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Ice Dragon

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Reading Levels: Ages 9-12

I was introduced to George R.R. Martin by a friend of mine who recommended that I read 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series. I really loved the first book 'A Game of Thrones' and am currently reading the second book 'A Clash of Kings'  which I equally love.

The Ice Dragon tells a tale of Adara, a solemn, serious child that seems devoid of emotion. Adara is a winter child, born during the worst winter ever and because of that she naturally loves the cold winter weather and dreads the heat of summer.

Somehow, Adara forms a bond with the Ice Dragon, a creature of legend that roams in her village during the coldest season. On her seventh birthday, war sweeps into her peaceful home and it is only the winter child and the Ice Dragon that could save her world from destruction. 

The Ice Dragon is only about 100 pages long and takes at most about half and hour to read through it. It's a short tale of heroism at the darkest hour and also highlights the atrocities of war: violence, death and loss. I'm not sure whether this book is suitable for children to read but I enjoyed it because Martin has not hidden the horrors and realities of war and the troubles in life. If you like Martin's other work then I think you'd enjoy reading this as well. A sad yet beautiful book which I definitely would recommend to read. 

Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge

Monday, January 18, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading? - 18 January 2010

I'm off for my very delayed honeymoon trip to Lipe Island in Thailand this week and I was struggling with my decision on what book I should bring for the trip.

After much deliberation, I've decided to start reading Infected by Scott Sigler for my island retreat. I wanted to read something fast paced with a lot of action and from the reviews that I've read Infected is just the right book to read. I'll also be taking Charlaine Harris's All Together Dead with me for the trip just in case Infected doesn't work out well for me. 

Anyway, hope to catch up with everyone next week once I'm back! In the meantime, here's a trailer for Sigler's Infected if you haven't read it yet. 


"What are you reading on Mondays?" is a weekly blog event hosted by J.Kaye's book blog.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

451 Challenge

Okay. I know I said that I wouldn't join another reading challenge but I just can't seem to say no! Anyway, I saw this challenge and I thought it was interesting seeing that I read 451 Fahrenheit last year. 

451 Fahrenheit is hosted by As Usual, I Need More BookShelves. For more information on the challenge you can visit the dedicated blog site for 451 Challenge here

I've decided to participate based on the Spark level. The Spark level requires participants to read 1-2 books from the master list which is available on the challenge blog site. 

This challenge runs from January 1, 2010 to November 30, 2010. 

Happy reading everybody!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Catching Fire, The Hunger Games Trilogy

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Reading Level: Young Adults

Catching Fire is the second installment of The Hunger Games Trilogy. I picked this book up and started reading it almost immediately after finishing the first book.

Now a victor of the Hunger Games, Katniss is seen as a symbol of rebellion and has, without her realizing encouraged an uprising amongst the people of Panem against the Capitol. The government sees Katniss as a threat to the their power and this brings danger to not only her but also the people that she loves.  
I liked Catching Fire a bit less than The Hunger Games. Its still full of suspense and as fast paced as the first book but I almost lost interest towards the last chapter of the book for reasons that I can’t mention to avoid spoilers. Upon saying that however, Catching Fire’s ending is great as it sets the pace for the third book which I think will be excellent. 
The love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale is a bit more apparent than the first book but am not sure how one can pick sides between the two boys seeing that Peeta gets more mentions and appearances in the book compared to Gale. Despite the lack of mentions, I’m hoping that Katniss will end up with Gale in the third book. I’m into outdoorsy men; bakers don’t excite me, sorry Peeta. *Go Gale*
I’ve enjoyed reading both books and I can’t wait for the third book to be released in August. I’ve also read that Lionsgate has bought the rights to make a movie based on the book. Let’s hope the movie version will live up to the reader’s expectation.  


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Hunger Games

-->Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Reading Level: Young Adults  

The Hunger Games has received a lot of hype amongst book reviewers that I follow either through reviews on their blog or through their Twitter comments which naturally would make one curious about the book. 

In the Hunger Games, North America is destroyed and replaced by Panem. Panem is divided into 12 districts that is controlled by the Capitol. Every year the Capitol runs the Hunger Games as an annual live televised event to remind the people of Panem that the Capitol is in power. Each district selects by lottery two teens, one boy and one girl to fight for survival in the Hunger Games arena. The only person to come out alive will live a comfortable life with lots of money and at the same time secure a whole year of food and necessary supplies to survive for the people of the winning district. 

Initially I had low expectations of the book because the storyline seemed unoriginal (reminded me of The Running Man with Arnold Schwarzenegger, which is also loosely based on a book of similar title). However, despite the predictable storyline I actually enjoyed reading The Hunger Games. 

I absolutely love the main character Katniss and find her non-conformist attitude refreshing. She is also self- reliant and definitely a survivor. 

The Hunger Games is engaging from beginning till the end. The scenes in the arena is filled with deathly challenges like attacks from man made mutants or violent contestants that all fight hard to survive the Hunger Games making it full of suspense and pretty darn gripping at some parts. Throughout the Hunger Games you will see Katniss form a bond with Peeta, the other contestant from her district setting the romantic scene for the book. There are other bonds formed and severed in the book that is a bit sad but makes good reading.
Overall The Hunger Games gives a good mix of physical adventure, romance and a not so complicated political agenda (well it is young adult fiction anyway) that makes it a good read. Is it a MUST read? Well, ya okay you should read it cause its quite entertaining but I felt that the buzz surrounding the Hunger Games maybe is a bit over hyped. 

By the way, I accidentally came across a site about what the word Panem means and did my own search. Check it out here, it’s so relevant to the books storyline. Interesting…

Related Posts with Thumbnails