Twilight is for twits (sorry to say)

I just finished the last book of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga and I just feel so strongly about the four books I’ve read in a bid to understand why is it so popular.

First, I must say that they were very easy to read, making them seem almost like page-turners. I practically flipped through Twilight and New Moon.

When I hit Eclipse that’s where it started to go downhill. I can’t remember the plot, but I remember thinking what’s the point of book number three?

Breaking Dawn really topped it. The way Jacob transferred his love by imprinting (speaking of which, I find the concept of imprinting quite silly – something about that term just doesn’t make sense to me) on Bella’s daughter, Renesmee, is just too ludicrous for me.

Okay, if I would suspend reality, this is a supernatural romance, therefore one might conclude it will have an unusual couple. Like a 200-year-old Angel falling for 17-year-old Buffy. But older men fall for younger women all the time. I’ve never heard of a man falling for the daughter of a woman he used to love. It’s not incest but it feels like a tinge of it to me.

I find Bella a terrible protagonist. She seemed nice, but there’s nothing much special about her until she became a vampire and acquired supernatural abilities. Before that, the way she brooded when she thought she lost Edward was just so off-putting for a protagonist. Even if you don’t really get over who you think was the love of your life, everyone needs to move on. I understand that it’s a heartbreaking thing to happen, but did the author need to make her suffer for that loooong?

Speaking of which, the books were highly long-winded despite being easy to read. Long-winded and has a really bad tendency to exaggerate. Every negative feeling described on the books seemed to be using adjectives like agony and excruciating – and this was only to describe emotional pain, which happened almost all the time in the books. Come on, how often can you feel excruciating emotional pain?

The climax of Breaking Dawn was so anti-climactic. Almost 100 people gather, prepared to fight and die, and in the end only one person is killed? There was no fight at all, just lots of talking. Yap, yap, yap… okay, no fight. Happily ever after. The end. Such a typical girly, idealistic, unrealistic plot.

Urgh. I probably offend many Twilight fans by my review, but this is just my personal opinion. I can’t stand what Twilight stands for.

Update: Read this instead of Twilight. It’s a better read, I assure you.

In My Book greeting-card-cum-bookmark

A couple of months ago, I featured a greeting-card-cum-bookmark which I absolutely liked for its bookish themes. I jokingly said that I would like one and who knew that the president of the company that produces these greeting cards read my post and granted my wish!

He left a comment on that post and I promptly emailed him my address. I received the card about a week or two ago. That’s his name card in the plastic wrapping of the greeting card.

The In My Book greeting-card-cum-bookmark series has 15 different bookish designs. I chose this one because the woman is reading a book in a room surrounded by books. The greeting says “In my book… you’re novel” which I think is cute. If you are a guy wanting to get a card for a girl you like (who loves to read), this card will definitely score you some brownie points. 😉 The other 14 greeting cards have greetings with bookish references. Any book lover will love to receive an In My Book greeting card.

This is to illustrate how big is the greeting card. It is much bigger than a standard mass paperback novel and thus larger than your average bookmark. It may not fit my copy of Natsuo Kirino’s Real World but it is the perfect size for my copy of Walter Moers’ The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear because the book is larger than average (the sort of size of an omnibus containing a trilogy).

The greeting card has perforated edges for you to separate the bookmark from the card but personally, I think it is more special to keep the card together with the bookmark. Not many bookmarks has a personal touch like this, don’t you think? Then again, not many people give bookmarks as gifts in the first place. Or greeting cards these days, for that matter. Which is why In My Book greeting cards make a suitable casual gift… or maybe meaningful too, depending on what you write in the card. It is left blank inside for you to write according to the occasion.

Check out the In My Book website for more card designs and information. Each card costs USD$3.95, which includes shipping (I think that’s just in the US, though).

A big thank you to Robin for giving me an In My Book greeting card! I hope to collect the other designs if I ever see them sold in Malaysia, or should I visit the US some day.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Sherman Alexie

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The book in one sentence: Arnold Spirit Jr. quits the local reservation high school to go to a better, all-white high school in the next county, in an inspirational underdog tale that will make you laugh!

Who would you recommend it to: If you’re looking for a refreshing, uplifting read, this is the book for you. A highly-recommended young adult book.

OK bits: It’s a story about how the biggest underdog of all underdogs there are in the world manages to triumph in life, with courage and spirit and determination. And a great sense of humour! It also won the National Book Award.

Boring bits: Nothing.

Verdict: I loved this book! Junior is funny, sweet, brave, smart and a whole lot more. A character you can’t help but root for, in whatever challenges he faces in life.

12 Days – June Kim

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June Kim is an illustrator and cartoonist. Before coming to New York, June studied Japanese language and literature in Seoul, South Korea. Upon finishing her junior year, she came to New York to study cartooning at the School of Visual Arts. Since graduating in 2002, her comic work has been published in a few highly acclaimed anthologies such as New Thing Vol.2, but she is most well known for her work on Australian rock band JET’s album cover, as well as contributing illustrations to Flaunt magazine, Teen People, and Tokion. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, and when not working as a freelance illustrator, she can be found slowly chasing her dream to become a full time cartoonist. Her chase can be witnessed at http://www.nofishentertainment.com.

The book in one sentence: Jackie’s lover Noah dies and she thinks consuming Noah’s ashes (in smoothies) in 12 days will quicken her grieving process.

Who would you recommend it to: I’m not sure. This is my first time reading manga.

OK bits: I like the whole same sex romance premise.

Boring bits: More like there were parts I didn’t understand. The characters look alike to me and it was difficult to differentiate what was flashback and who is a guy or girl!

Verdict: I don’t know if this was good manga. I like the plot but it was just so-so for me.

The Glamorous (Double) Life of Isabel Bookbinder – Holly McQueen

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Holly McQueen has wanted to be a writer ever since discovering that the nuns at her junior school would let her off maths homework if she wrote a story instead. After unexpected detours via law, magazine journalism, and even musical theatre, she began writing her first novel in 2006. Holly lives with her husband in London. She still avoids maths.

The book in one sentence: Isabel Bookbinder wants to be the next bestselling author but is more concerned about getting the author ‘Look’ right than writing the damn bloody book itself.

Who would you recommend it to: Nobody. Not even if you like chick lit.

OK bits: Nothing. But I suppose I’m a bit biased!

Boring bits: Everything. Totally unoriginal.

Random review quote:

“A marvellously funny debut” – Jilly Cooper

Verdict: Do not touch this book with a ten-foot pole. Totally ripped off Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series, right down to the interlude letters. (Even ripped off the image of my header for her cover! Haha okay, I’m lying.) Character Isabel Bookbinder is delusional, ridiculous and totally unlovable. Yes, I clearly loathe the book and so did everyone else who wrote a review on Amazon. Or Barnes & Noble, can’t remember.

The Cellist of Sarajevo – Steven Galloway

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Steven Galloway was born in Vancouver in 1975. He is the author of two previous novels. The Cellist of Sarajevo is his first novel to be published in the UK.

The book in one sentence: How life amidst war (the Siege of Sarajevo) is like for three different individuals, who are all touched by the act of the cellist of Sarajevo.

Who would you recommend it to: Someone who likes a good, sad read that leaves you reflecting on life in a more appreciative way. Think Khaled Hosseini’s books.

OK bits: Of the three individuals’ stories, I like the story of Arrow, the female counter-sniper, the best.

Boring bits: Nothing boring, but it is quite slow. The language is simple enough to read but you might find yourself reading again to fully grasp the meaning of the words.

Random review quote:

“This gripping novel transcends time and place… A testimony to the struggle to find meaning, grace, and humanity, even amid the most unimaginable horrors.” – Khaled Hosseini

Verdict: My friend David did a guest post review for this book, which prompted me to look for it. By chance, I found it at a book sale for a really cheap price (RM8, that’s less than USD$3) so I picked it up. My friend is right – this is a good read and I would recommend it too. It’s not mind-blowing in that sense, but the book has a quiet power that affects you.

Guest Post Review: The Cellist of Sarajevo

This is a guest post by my friend David, who wrote a review of a book that I feel like reading now!

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(2009) The Text Publishing Company, Melbourne, Victoria
Pp 227 (paperback)
ISBN 9781921520150

I don’t know about you, but I really like stories that bring up the best of people in the face of adversaries. And this book certainly does this.

Steven Galloway’s The Cellist of Sarajevo, a 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize nominee and a 2009 BC Book Prize’s Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize finalist, is a fiction story that is based on the true events of Vedran Smajlović’s act of playing Albinoni’s melancholy Adagio in G Minor on his cello for 22 days, in honour of the death of 22 people who had been killed by mortars while queuing for bread. Intriguingly, the Cellist is not the main protagonist of the story, but three individuals who are trying to survive the days of the Siege of Sarajevo; Arrow, a counter-sniper assigned to protect the Cellist from assassination, Kenan, a ‘cowardly’ family man whose mission is to procure water supply from a dangerous part of Sarajevo, and Dragan, an apathetic man numbed by the daily violence and concerned about his free meals.

Divided into four chapters, we see gradual and evident changes in the characters as the story progresses. Arrow becomes more sympathetic towards the enemy, and develops an internal dilemma. At one point, she hesitates on killing the sniper sent by the ‘men on the hills’ (clearly in reference to the Bosnian Serbs) to assassinate the Cellist, because she sees him drawn to the music. Kenan on the other hand, transforms from being a fearful person, to a man of duty and courage. Having experienced death up-close after artillery shells fell near him at a water storage depot which kill and injure many, he tells himself he will not cower anymore and he makes a pledge to be one of the many who will rebuild Sarajevo when the time comes. As for Dragan, his transformation comes after witnessing his friend shot by a sniper and the death of a man who tried to help his friend. Dragan understands the importance of altruism and for the first time, takes action and lifts the body of the man out of the sniper’s fire.

It has been a long while since I have come across a novel that makes me pause at the very end to consider the gravity of the messages the book is trying to tell.

Highly recommended read.

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